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 6 gallon Bio-composter 
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
EDIT June 2014: I'm still using pine bark, but have become aware of an issue with the release of sap/resin in some batches. If you're using one of my bio-composters, you can dissolve pine resin with Dawn Ultra dish soap. A description of the pine bark issue and the Dawn Ultra treatment can be found here: LINK

I'm currently testing alternatives to pine bark, including common wood mulch, and using all hardwood lump charcoal. I used medium coconut husk (coir) chips in the past with good results, but after several months it tends to shred and slow down drainage.


Hi Mark. I currently use pine bark mulch and lump charcoal pieces, filled to about halfway up, added at the beginning before any waste is introduced. The charcoal is optional, and if not used then I recommend filling the composter halfway with the mulch.

The system is flushed without emptying the compost. The mulch/charcoal acts as a kind of filter, and holds the undigested waste in place as the fine castings (frass) are rinsed out.

I just today changed the type of Velcro I'm using. I had been using "Sticky Back"Velcro, and today I ordered "Industrial Strength" Velcro in the 1 inch width, hook side only. This type has a stronger adhesive, and I also like the profile of the hooks better. Unfortunately, this will probably be hard to find locally, since most places only sell hook/loop combination, and the 2 inch width seems to be what almost everyone stocks. You only need 1 inch X 4 feet, so I would simply cut it in halfway lengthwise. I'll look for a source for 1 inch, but for now you can see the product here: LINK

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:12 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Jerry,
I have had the Bio-composter for about 4 weeks and really enjoy it. I filled with char on bottom and Pine bark mulch on top both taking up the 1/3 of composter. It has been a slow process but I have a lot of baby larvae 500 and lots of BSF 100.



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Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:30 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
The above picture shows Baby larvae climb out. It was hot in the green house 102 top half 86 at the floor. They were on the floor. At what point in time do I need to flush the composter. I am concerned that I would flush the babies out. How do I do it?


Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:37 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
I'm not sure why the small juveniles are climbing out of the waste. The Velcro larva barrier won't stop the small larvae, but normally they stay with the waste unless conditions are bad; usually due to high temperatures. Since your colony isn't very dense at this time I don't imagine they're creating a lot of extra heat. Could the temp in your greenhouse have gotten higher than what you posted below?

How is the smell inside the composter? It's hard to tell from a photo, but the waste looks like it may be a little on the anaerobic side. If it smells bad I would definitely flush the system. It might be helpful if you would describe the odor in the unit. Photos are always helpful, and it would be great if you could get a few more high definition shots of the inside of the composter. My eyes aren't great (age) so keeping them about 600 pixels wide is my preference. :)

When I flush a composter I close the valve and add water to the top of the waste, and then wait a few minutes before opening the valve. I direct the stream of liquid into a bucket, and I strain it through a standard wire mesh kitchen strainer to catch any larvae that are rinsed out. The mesh I use is about the same size as window screen. It's possible you might loose a small number of very tiny larvae, but I haven't noticed that happening before. If you think you might be losing a significant number you could always examine the liquid carefully, and strain it through something finer. You could also open the drain only partially, so that the stream of liquid doesn't rush out too fast.

I'm also curious about the paper visible in the unit. It isn't necessarily bad to add some to the system, but I don't think it would be of any benefit either.

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Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:15 am
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Jerry,
Thank you for ALL the information it is great.

Quote:
normally they stay with the waste unless conditions are bad;
I'm also curious about the paper visible in the unit.

I am combining your quotes in one because I think this may be one issue. When I was checking on the 360 worm composter I found a nest of teenage larvae and placed them in the Bio - composter. There were about 50 plus. This is where the news paper came from. Could they be generate more heat?

Quote:
How is the smell inside the composter?

As to smell, YES there is smell in the whole green house. I think most of it is coming from the grey tub, which has both worm and grubs. I have not turned it in about 3 to 4 weeks, I was afraid that I would damage any eggs or baby larvae laid under things in the grey tub. I do think the Bio composter is smelling too. And from the start, some of the food was getting fuzzy mold. I am not seeing as much now since I have introduce more food in these past weeks. One of the foods that they have loved is can cat food.

Quote:
Could the temp in your greenhouse have gotten higher than what you posted below?

Quote:
It was hot in the green house 102 top half 86 at the floor.

The temp is a good reading. I have two different readers. When I first started with readers I match their temp to check their correctness. I have one next to floor, and the other reader is on the shelf which is about 4 feet from the floor. The two readers seems always be about 13-16 degrees different.

Quote:
My eyes aren't great (age) so keeping them about 600 pixels wide is my preference.

I will post a new photo Larger for the aging eyes. :shock: I wear trifocals.

Quote:
It's hard to tell from a photo, but the waste looks like it may be a little on the anaerobic side.

What actually are you looking at that shows anaerobic?

Quote:
flush a composter

Thank you for the info, I will flush the Bio- composter.

Now that it is getting warmer 70-80 days and 50-60 nights, should I look at leaving everything in the green house but open the door during the day, I know that will mean I will lose a lot of BSF?

Also, I am have a problem with spiders netting my BSF. Everyday I knock down the webs and kill any spiders or eggs I see.

Thank you


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Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:57 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Heat from the BSF won't be an issue until you have a dense colony of larvae.

I mentioned anaerobic waste because in the photo the waste looks like it's been in there for a long time. You can expect that in the beginning when you don't have enough larvae to quickly eat it. It's not a problem because the rotting waste is a good BSF attractant, but it appears that you have plenty in there already and I would probably stop adding more until what's in there is eaten. I also don't use animal protein like the cat food in the beginning because it get's pretty nasty after several days, but in a green house where house flies can't get to it, it might be as much of an issue.

I'm not sure about opening the greenhouse, I've never worked with one. One disadvantage to opening it would be allowing other fly species in, although that wouldn't be a huge issue. I would probably open it by the time your local wild BSF start breeding.

Spiders are annoying sometimes, but once you get everything running at maximum you'll be able to spare a few BSF. :)

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Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:35 am
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
I am glad you questioned me on the temperature being correct. I started checking the temp and found out because the reader was on a shelf across from the bio -composter, which was registering at 78 degree. Move the reader over to the Bio-composter with the heater under it registered 90 degree. Plus I took the temp of the waste in the Bio-Composter and it was 95 degree.

Thank you for check the waste. I have time tonight to flush the Bio-composter.

Can I turn the waste in the grey Tub without hurting eggs (I don't see) that maybe on the top of the waste?


Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:17 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Robbie, BSF prefer to lay their eggs above or beside the waste, so most of them should be ok if you turn it. Even if it means losing a few, it's probably best to keep the waste aerated.

Does your thermometer record data? My thought was that maybe you missed the peak temps. Anyway, 95º is fine for BSFL.

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Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:36 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Quote:
Does your thermometer record data?
Just paper and pencil. :lol:

I was able to flush it with no problem.

Quote:
it's probably best to keep the waste aerated.
Thanks for the help with the Grey tub. I will aerate it Wed.

Thank you for all your advice, it really makes adventuring into a new territory much easier.
:D


Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:26 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Quote:
It's not a problem because the rotting waste is a good BSF attractant, but it appears that you have plenty in there already and I would probably stop adding more until what's in there is eaten.

Thanks for the advise. I seen more activity and less gnats. And I have seen eggs being laid in the egg laying substrate. Yeah.


Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:31 am
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Aloha Jerry, I am definitely in the market for one or two of your BSF breeder/composters. This subject has gotten a lot of news here in Hawai'i where feed is very expensive for chickens and other livestock. Your design is the cleanest and most straight-forward I've seen, and affordable, too. That is, IF you are selling them! :P Please let me know about availability; we have BSF here year round and I'd like to get started asap (sooner the better to reduce my feed costs for our chickens). Excellent :idea:
Mahalo!


Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:04 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Hi cghbrook, sorry about my long absence. Sometimes when life gets busy I don't have the energy for everything I want to pursue. Unfortunately, composter sales have never been a very profitable affair, so I have to rationalize my efforts as a hobby, at least for now. I'm looking into using 3d printing to help streamline the construction process, but of course a large printer is fairly expensive. Whether I buy a 3d printer or not, I will probably have to raise the price of the composter. Either way, please remind me if you are purchasing a unit in the future and I will give you a discount.

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Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:44 am
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Is there any reason why using rocks/gravel at the bottom of a unit would be a bad idea? I am planning on building plywood "bug barracks" design, but was going to incorporate your draining system idea with slitted pipe along the bottom and leading out through a valve. I was considering wrapping the slitted drain pipe with a filter material like paint strainer bags to just remove excess liquid. Then would cover that drainage system with possibly macadamia shells (have lots) or gravel.


Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:44 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Hi akon, and welcome to our forum.

Brian's Bug Barracks is an excellent design, and I think that with the adaptation of my filter system you'll have a very workable composter.

I haven't heard of a case where filter material didn't quickly clog in a BSF system getting moderate to heavy use. Imagine that you're attempting to filter wet clay, because that's roughly the texture you have to deal with. Brian eventually used the Bug Barracks with an open bottom, placed directly on the ground. That seems like a very practical solution to drainage, although I would probably opt for my slotted drain for a few reasons.

I used lava rocks at first, but I like using bark or similar porous materials more. I don't know much about bacteria, but my impression is that the porous materials are beneficial in that they provide a habitat for bacteria. Gringojay has probably already commented on this, but I can't recall at the moment and I'm short on time. If anyone with more knowledge can comment it's appreciated.

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:44 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Are you still selling your units? The link seems to be broken.


Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:24 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
thegoodrev welcome to our forum :) If you'd like you can introduce yourself here (link).

Jerry is being kept busy elsewhere so it may be a while until he can answer you.

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Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:35 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
The latest update on the Bio-composter is good news (link) :)

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Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:03 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Another update (link)

Jerry wrote:
I calculated how much I earned building composters and collecting eggs last year, and my income was significantly less than the federal minimum wage. It was approximately $6 per hour after taxes. (We operate the business in legal fashion so we pay a lot of tax, about 30%, with few deductions) We knew that the the prices we were charging would create a very small profit margin, but we chose to price that way so we could get as many units as possible out into the laboratory represented by many people testing our composter. I'm happy with the results, but this year I can't rationalize investing my time for that wage.

This summer I'll need to focus on my regular job as much as possible. The remaining time will be precious, so we'll be increasing the price of our composters significantly. As previously mentioned, the time to build and deliver a composter will also increase. Our BSF work will be approached more as a hobby than a business, although my partner Bonnie and I will always strive to give the best service possible.

If you choose to order a composter or BSF eggs this year the process will happen as follows. Making a payment will establish your position in the line/queue for the product. The time to ship will vary from a few days to several weeks, and I will keep a running estimate on the order page for each product. If you've paid, and you're waiting for a product, we will notify you when the shipping date is nearing. If at any time you wish to cancel your order simply send us an email and we will refund your payment within 24 hours, probably much less.

Since our BSF composters will be more expensive than last year, I will make every effort to publish do-it-yourself plans for those who wish to build their own. I haven't gotten around to it because last year I was busy building units, and also the price to buy one from us was almost the same as the cost to DIY. Publishing DIY instructions will be a big project for me due to the large number of pieces and steps in constructing our design. Of course I will publish the plans and/or videos here on the forum.

My apologies to anyone who has been inconvenienced by the lack of information about our plans for BSF products. Thanks for your interest.

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Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:25 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Thanks Mike!

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Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:43 pm
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Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
I'm still working 6 long days per week at my regular job, but it should be slowing soon. I'm getting my composters set up for collecting eggs, and my garage organized for building....

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Fri May 08, 2015 9:59 am
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