First BSLF of 2011

Today (3/18) in my BSFLBOX, I saw the first soldier fly of the year.  Unfortuantely, some other flies have beat them to the box.  The little red eyed fly/gnats were there weeks ago, but now I believe that house flies have inserted themselves.

Last year, I believe that the same circumstance presented itself, but eventually, the soldier larvae won over.

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Introducing the BSFL BOX

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Introducing my BSFL Cannon

Less than $10, Less than 10 minutes

As I have used my BSFL composting tower (my BSFL Condo) for several months, I realized that the original food that was being processed was being compressed and turning very smelly (anerobic decomposition).  I needed some way to remove the older material without messing with the new food material and the current crop of BSFL.  In other words I needed a way to remove the already created pudding.

Another need that I had was a way for the mature larve to crawl away from the food without ramps, paths, etc. that would just be hard for me to build.

So, in a fit of creativity, I considered what you see here.  It is a five foot long piece of 4” pvc pipe that I purchased from Lowe’s.  The ends are covered in test caps used to keep trash from entering exposed ends.  By putting the caps on, and drilling some holes, I have accomplished a new form of DIY_BSFL_BIOPOD.

One end has two large holes drilled in the test cap.  The top hole is meant to allow the momma fly to enter and ovipost near this entrance of the pipe.  The bottom hole is a hole meant to allow mature larve to crawl up the pipe and exit and drop down into a container of leaves for them to pupate.  The top hole is also large enough to use as a grip to pull the cap off to place food into the pipe.

To hold the pipe at an angle, I simply insert the pipe under the handle of a five gallon bucket and balance the weight with a brick in the bucket.

The bottom end of the pipe also has a test cover but drilled with numerous little holes.  The little holes allows drainage of liquid and the entrance of air.  Also, since the test cap lets in some light, it shuns the larve away from the bottom to some degree.  The holes that do not have drainage, merely allows air to enter into the tube.  Perhaps a draft is created as the material heats up and sucks air in.

Also, on the bottom end, the cap can be removed to push out some of the more mature, older food waste.  The desire is that the larve have had their way with this and have since left it.  The cap can also be a place where some eggs are laid, as you can see in the picture.  I assume that the baby larve are small enough to enter through the drain/air holes.

The only problem that I have in this setup so far is the slowness of entering the food waste into the pipe.  Taking a half a gallon of food waste and entering it into a four inch hole without spilling is a rather slow process. But this could be remedied with a little creativity.

The PVC pipe seems to be a good fit for our goals. It can withstand the food and the BSFL without chemical leaching.  It can insulate rather well the contents from the outside weather (which would be good for winter time). It has a volume equivalent to that of the five gallon bucket. And the inside doesn’t seem to be as hot as the other containers as I don’t see them trying to escape from the food.

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Introducing my BSFL Condo

Everyone who is raising Black Soldier Fly Larve is raising them for their own reasons.  Some want to harvest the larve to feed to pets or birds, some want to use the bsfl for breaking down food waste.  I want to use the bsfl to create some excellant compost material.

I have found success with this arrangement because it provides the moisture (or compost tea) that I need directly into my composting bucket.  I basically have three levels to accomplish this task.

First, I have the actual bin for the larve and the food waste to be eaten. I start off with the penthouse.  It is merely a five gallon bucket with numerous large holes drilled in the sides and numerous small holes drilled in the bottom for the liquid to escape.  The holes on the side allow the mature larve to escape (as well as many immature larve).  The mature larve have many ways for them to crawl away.  The immature larve hang around the penthouse consuming what might fall out of the penthouse.

Next, there is the support bucket that has a lid.  The lid and the support walls keep the sun off of the BSFL container and allows ventilation.  The support bucket is simply a larger garden container, I guess about 20 gallons.  Any mature larve that falls into this bin can easily crawl out through the drainage holes to the compost pile.  Also, any moisture can easily drain out the bottom.

Eventually, I filled up the five gallon bucket.  This happened in a matter of about four months.  We eat alot and focus our waste on composting, so we fill it up quickly.  I knew that the bottom levels were probably not being chewed through and probably were not getting good air, thus getting putrid.  I decided to dump the penthouse into the support bucket, and sure enough, it was putrid.

Finally, all of the moisure of the breaking down drips into a large container that is composed of decomposing, shredded leaves.  When the year is over and I no longer have the larve growing, I will mix in the left over pudding into the compost bin and use it as compost for the soil.

So far, the only real negative is the oviposting sometimes is done in the wrong places on the bin.  When I find them on the outside of the lid, I wonder how in the world they will ever find their way to the food to decompose.  At that point, I scrape them up on a leaf and transport them to the food area.

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Out growing the Black Soldier Fly Larve DIY Bin

I finally reached a point where I had nearly five gallons of food and larve in my bin.  The bin had begun to smell and I knew that I couldn’t fit much more in. 

(My BSFLDIYBIN is a five gallon bucket with numers holes randomly drilled in the side, numerous holes drilled in the bottom for liquid drainage, and the lid just sitting on top.  I took this and set it in a 20 gallon gardening barrel that had drainage holes on the bottom, and placed a lid on top of this to keep the sun out.  All of this sits on top of a 125 gallon garden container to catch the bsfldiybin drainage and is filled with leaf mulch and compost material.  My goal is to use the residue for composting as I don’t need the larve to feed anything.)

Since I really have two bins, the bin for the larve/food waste, and an outside bin to protect the other bin, I just poured the five gallon bucket into the 20 gallon bucket.  I don’t worry about them crawling away because I am not gathering the larve to use.  I estimate that enough will stay on the food to break it down.  The mature larve will be able to crawl away from the food through the drain holes of the 20 gallon bucket in to the compost pile that the entire package is sitting on.  Of course, I have a lid on the 20 gallon bucket to prevent sun from coming in, and I have the five gallon bucket lid, sitting on top of the food waste for further shade and for a place for the flies to ovipulate (?), ovipost (?),…  lay her eggs.

With this setup, I hope that I can have more room for food waste, better airflow to the material being broken down, and an easier way for the mature larve to escape.

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Cucumber harvest strong

We will have many cucumbers available to eat and share with friends.  We probably planted too many together.  They are growing in long vines well beyond our tomato trellis that we set up to hold the cucumbers.  They taste a little richer and the skin is a little thicker.  But still good and rewarding none the less.

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Trouble with the Sunflowers

We began haveing black spots on the sunflower leaves, starting at the tip of the leaf and gradually moving inward.  The leaves would turn black on the top but still be somewhat alive on the bottom.

I cut a leaf off and took it inside.  Observations showed that the leave was wiggling.  There was a larve crawling in the leaf, eatting its way towards the stalk.

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To remedy this, I quickly cut off the leaves that were affected and then sprayed soap water on the leaves.  I believe that this has slowed their spread, though  I still need to find out what the larve is.

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