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 Can I use BSF compost in my garden? 
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Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:57 pm
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Post Can I use BSF compost in my garden?
Having a hard time finding a consensus. I got in to composting for my garden. I wound up with a thriving bsf colony by accident. I'm hearing conflicting stories on whether bsf colonies produce viable compost, or are mainly only good for chicken feed. I don't have chickens, and I'm happy to have a bsf colony, but if it doesn't result in soil amendment, then I've wasted my time.

I've read both stories though, that bsfl create great compost, and that the bsfl leave the bin with most of the nutrients in their bodies, leaving a compost that is either non beneficial, or even possibly harmful to the garden.

Any experience with this?


Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:59 pm
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Post Re: Can I use BSF compost in my garden?
Newbsf wrote:
... that the bsfl leave the bin with most of the nutrients in their bodies,...
That's an interesting perspective that I hadn't considered before.

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... leaving a compost that is either non beneficial, or even possibly harmful to the garden.
I don't believe it's either of those. However the volume of compost produced will be less as BSFL are reputed to produce a 95% reduction in the weight and volume of the original material (link).

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Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:10 pm
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Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:26 am
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Post Re: Can I use BSF compost in my garden?
Newbsf wrote:

I've read both stories though, that bsfl create great compost, and that the bsfl leave the bin with most of the nutrients in their bodies, leaving a compost that is either non beneficial, or even possibly harmful to the garden.

Any experience with this?


I harvest and use over 500 gallons of compost from my BSF bins annually. Though it is true that the BSF extract a lot of nutrients, it is also true that in traditional composting, much of the nutrients are outgassed as ammonia or various nitrogen compounds. Perhaps the same could be said for earthworms: they extract most of the nutrients from the food they are fed, yet their residue, like BSF residue is still a wonderful soil amendment. Cattle extract most of the nutrients from the plants they graze, yet their residue is considered a valuable resource for further composting or to use directly as a soil amendment.

It's not about JUST the nutrients that remain. It's also about the beneficial bacteria that are seeded in the residue as well as the organic substances that are more accessable to plant roots as a result of having been previously digested and rendered into small particles thus adding tilth to the soil.

My bananas are thriving on a thick mulch of BSF residue. The soil here in south Florida is mostly sand, shell, and limestone marl and it has a very high pH. The BSF residue I've been using has IMMENSELY improved the soil in my banana groves. It is now dark and fertile down to over 8 inches in depth, moist, and crawling with earthworms and various grubs and insects. It has also lowered the soil pH to much more plant friendly levels.

I suggest you try an experiment: Pick a spot in your garden- maybe 2 foot square, and fertilize and mulch with only BSF residue for a year. Do the same thing with a similar sized spot using only your traditional compost. As a control, leave another spot un-amended with anything. Seed each of the three spots with the same flowers or veggies come spring and see for yourself which works best for you. Whether or not the BSF residue works better than your traditional compost is something the results will tell you, but I can just about guarantee the BSF spot will outperform the unamended spot (assuming, of course, equal sun, water, and comparable volumes of residue and compost used in the experiment).

The other good thing about the BSF residue is that you can compost stuff that is a no-no in traditional composting: pet feces, fatty foods, meat, dairy products, etc. Even if you don't want to use it as a compost by itself, it makes a marvelous addition to your traditional compost pile. If the earthworms thrive in it, I figure it's gotta be good stuff! :)


Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:41 am
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