Breathable Bucket Bin #1 – Update

Yesterday I (finally) decided to conduct a proper assessment of my original “Super Simple Breathable Bucket Worm Bin“, and I figured catching all the exciting action (haha) on camera might not be a bad idea either.

I have checked on the bucket here and there since starting it up back in the middle of October. I have also fed a couple of times since the initial-set-up. But this was the first time digging all the way down to see how things were coming along in the lower reaches.

Right off the bat, I mention (in video) that I had seen some Scuttle Flies in the system (and even catch one or two on camera). There are two possible explanations for this:

1) They simply found a way in – if so, it would likely be by crawling underneath the fabric lid, since (as mentioned in my set up video) this was only secured with a basic elastic band.

2) They were introduced via food/bedding added to the system – this may actually be more likely. I’ve had Scuttle Flies hanging out in my basement for some time now (my compostable kitty litter set-ups are a big part of the problem), and they tend to find containers of rich organic matter pretty quickly. They may have ended up in the kitchen scrap collection bucket under my sink or in the bag of mulched leaves and grass clippings prior to some of these materials being added to my bucket.

Whatever the case may be, it definitely doesn’t seem to be remotely close to an “infestation”. I found no evidence of Scuttle Fly larvae/pupae (a lot bigger and more obvious than those of Fruit Flies or Fungus Gnats).

This actually brings us to another important observation…

I was really impressed with how balanced the ecosystem seemed to be in the bucket. I spotted an isopod, what looked to be predatory mites, as well as a small rove beetle (another small predator). In a sense these are all “indicator species” – very often disappearing in more typical plastic, enclosed worm bins. I really like having small predators since they seem to keep the small flies and gnats in check (likely munching on their larvae) – and springtail populations at much more reasonable levels.

All in all, I’m very impressed with how things are coming along. It is very damp down at the bottom, but by no means swampy/smelly – as can often be the case with an enclosed plastic bin after 2 or 3 months. The upper reaches have actually ended up on the dry side (thanks to fabric lid), but with a little more time/attention I’m sure it would be easy to keep conditions close to “perfect” throughout.

In the video I talk about another breathable bucket approach I plan to test out. Someone had made the suggestion to skip the vent installation altogether and simply lay something like window screen over top of regular drill holes. This struck me as a good idea to at least test out. I didn’t have any window screen but do have lots of old bed sheet material, so I made a couple of new buckets with big drill holes and strips of bed sheet secured over top (with good ol duct tape! lol).

As much as I love the vents, one potential hassle I can envision further down the road is storage of empty breathable buckets. The vents would need to be removed in order for the empty buckets to stack nicely.

These new versions may end up being “too breathable” – but a polyweave fabric (or even plastic sheet) lid could help to compensate for this, if so.

I will be sure to write more about all of this once I get these newer buckets set up!

Getting back to the original bucket…

I decided to add some dry bedding down in the lower reaches of the system before putting all the material back.

I then added some frozen carrot wastes (originally collected for my 10 Worm experiment) up top before adding a new layer of cover bedding and securing the fabric lid.

My plan is to make this into much more of a typical, active home system in the weeks ahead. I’m curious to see what (if anything) will happen on the Scuttle Fly front – and also how the worms will respond to more food deposits.

Hoping to provide another update in a month or so!
Stay tuned

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