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 Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques 
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:07 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Raleigh, NC
Post Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques
I have been reading on the forum but I still have questions. I have a new system with a starter egg kit (2 weeks old). I have read that I need to keep the compost moist for the new eggs. My compost is mostly output from a juicer so it is really dry anyway. Should I mist is every day? Should I make it wet?

Also, I am not completely clear on the flood and drain technique. Am I supposed to flood to the top of the compost and then let it drain out? Blast the open end of the PVC with a water hose to clear it out?

Thanks for the help in advance.


Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:11 pm
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques
Hi cmoss, thanks for supporting us with you purchase and for joining the forum.

There is no one perfect set of rules for everyone because of variables in waste, climate, time spent with the composter, etc. Once I have a dense colony going I usually end up flooding/flushing once or twice per week. Once per week seems to be a minimum because if you don't do it that often then you'll get a lot of larvae pupating in the unit. That's not a big problem, but it matters more if you want to harvest larvae for feed. Other than that you just need to flush often enough to maintain air pockets throughout the waste. Of course, if you detect any bad, sewer-like odors it's time to flush. I typically flood the unit until the water comes over the top of the compost, wait 5-10 minutes, and then open the valve and let it drain. Clogging is rare for me, and when the flow is slow I simple direct a strong stream of water from the nozzle of a hose into the top of the vertical slotted drain pipe. If you have a stubborn clog then you can shoot a stream from the valve end. When draining the liquid I catch the larvae that get washed out in a wire mesh kitchen strainer and dump them back in the composter.

For the last few months I've been leaving the drain open almost all of the time using this set up: LINK

If you're in the process of establishing a colony there or other ways to use the drainage system. I've had some success by flooding the composter almost to the top of the bulking material from the first day of set up. I then add fruit/veg/grain waste so that it's sits in the water, but is partially exposed on top. I leave that water to ferment until I've attracted some egg laying. Picture wine making that only a fly could appreciate. I've never had this stage take more than a few weeks, but if takes longer you may have to drain the liquid at some point, before it becomes too anaerobic and stinky. The fermentation should create a sour smell but not sewer-like. Some have expressed concern about washing away any tiny larvae when draining the liquid. At this stage I simply use a finer mesh strainer. I'm sure I lose a few larvae, but at this point you'll have egg laying, and losing a few is acceptable in my opinion.

If the wet start up method doesn't appeal to you, then you can just add waste on top of the bulking material and do your best to keep it moist. If you start with the wet method and get frustrated you can simply drain the liquid and switch to the dry/damp method. What's most important in the attracting stage is that you consistently keep some fermenting/rotting waste in the unit. If you do that, then eventually your local BSF should find it.

I'm sorry that I don't have this organized to the point where you follow precise steps; I've only been working with this drainage system for a short time myself. Anything you can add with experience is appreciated.

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*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:51 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:07 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Raleigh, NC
Post Re: Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques
Thanks, Jerry.your reply filled in the blanks that I needed filled in. Perfect. Just got some white larvae crawling around in there now. Don't know if that's house fly larvae or BSF. I do have 60,000 fruit flies and a host of house flies all over this thing but time will tell.


Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:54 pm
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
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Post Re: Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques
When I use the wet method of attracting BSF I don't see many house flies. I get primarily fruit flies, which I think are preferable. Part of the reason might be my choice of waste also. I don't normally start out with animal products.

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*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:56 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:44 pm
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Post Re: Adding Moisture to Compost, Flood and Drain techniques
HI cmoss, - I used 100% vegetable juice bar pulp in Jerry's bio-composter with eggs he supplied & once could see the larvae they were BSF. Before adding in any more pulp I inoculated the pulp in a separate tub with some already decomposing pulp from the bio-composter & mixed it all together. Covered against fruit flies the pulp mass would start to brown & ooze fluid in a few days.

Then increments of that starting to rot pulp was on hand for putting into the bio-composter. Based on Jerry's related experience I did not overload the bin & reflexively try to dispose of everything into the larval colony. You may not have so much daily pulp that it would be a problem to just toss it into the bin; the juice bar daily generated lots.

By letting larval consumption lower the level of feed before loading in pulp I could move the worked over pulp aside somewhat to see & scrape away part of the "pudding" goo (bio-film) developing atop the lower bulking strata. I believe vegetable pulp feeding, due to it's kinds of residual carbohydrate molecules is prone to creating more bio-film than when BSF larvae are fed with high protein.

Smell of the exclusively juice pulp bio-composter substrate was "sour" but never putrid & when exposed/spooned off the bio-film "goo" reeked of muck. The pre-fermented juice pulp constantly settled out it's fluid into the bulking strata without obstructing the drainage & when valve opened that leachate did have a cloying smell.


Sat Sep 27, 2014 5:52 pm
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