Critter Composting – Update

Early in the month I wrote about my “Uber Natural” bin and the 3 different mini systems I set up to see how easily I could raise isopods, millipedes and springtails. After a week or so I’ll admit I wasn’t overly optimistic – I found no sign of life in the springtail bin (and reached the conclusion that most, if not all the springtails washed out from the Urban Worm Bag were likely already dead), and couldn’t find as many millipedes or isopods as I had originally added to those systems.

So I boosted the numbers of all the critters with small number of new recruits and once again left them alone for a while.

This past week things looked more promising! I had no trouble finding the “critters” in all 3 bins, and I even found a bunch of baby isopds in that system! Now, before you get as excited as I was initially (lol) – as I learned from my invertebrate-farming friend (mentioned last time), female isos can actually carry fully formed young around with them in a brood pouch. So, what’s mostly likely the case is that I introduced a female that already had some young with her.

Still very cool – and I look forward to seeing how the population grows from here.

As touched on in my first installment, one of my goals with this project is to see if I can produce enough “castings” – especially from the millipedes – to actually test it out as a plant growth booster. Rather than wait around for months, I more recently decided that a separate millipede bin with a lot more individuals to start would make way more sense.

I won’t get into all the ins and outs of the set up process. It was a very similar approach as that used for the original millipede and isopod bins – major emphasis on high-C materials like fall leaves, brown paper and cardboard. But with some extra nutrition in the form of a small sprinkling of poultry pellets and a couple of fruit scraps. I found an old bag of yard waste, including some dried up grass clippings, outside – so I added some of that as well.

I have no idea how many millipedes I added this time but it was definitely a lot more than I addded to my starter bin, and I have plans to continue adding more over time. I figure no point adding loads and loads of them before I know how well they are going to do in this system.

If you want more of a semi-creepy, live-action look at the millipedes – here ya go!

As touched on, these aren’t the common millipedes I find out in my yard. After a bit more research, I’m quite sure these are the variety known as “greenhouse millipedes” (Oxidus sp). They seem to be really thriving well in my Uber-Natural bin, so I’m hopeful I can get this system humming along nicely before too long – and produce enough milli-poop I can test out!

Stay tuned!

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