Casa Beebe

Time to feed the… Maggots??

So, in my very first blog post I talked about some of the things I was doing to recycle and help lessen our impact on the environment. This post can be found HERE. I talk a bit about typcial household recycling of glass, cans and cardboard. I talk about only running the dishwasher when it is full and using the lighter wash cycles. These are things that I already do.

I also talk about things that I *want* to do to lessen our impact on the environment and recycle even more, like capturing rain water, riding my bike more and composting.

I have always been a little afraid of composting because of the smell. Anyone who has ever gotten a good whiff of rotting grass in a yard compost bin knows the smell of which I speak! It is not even a smell, really, but more of a stench. A very unpleasant stench. I did not want to have a big pile of rotting stench anywhere on my property.

Also, I had done some online reading about how to properly compost your yard, garden and kitchen debris and, quite honestly, I was totally put off by the amount of work involved! The militant compost websites talked about daily and weekly rotation of the pile, having multiple piles, having the appropriate amount of moisture and oxygen, never adding new debris to an already in progress pile because then you will have to start all over again!

Then there were all the do’s and don’t’s about what can go in the pile. Egg shells-yes, newspaper-no. No newspaper? No newspaper! Not according to the militant composters, anyway. Plus there was the requirement of both green and dried debris, in addition to things like coffee grounds, and paper type products, but not too much of any one thing. And absolutely NO MEAT or DAIRY or FISH or any type of animal carcass. Animal products were a kiss of death because they can become nasty and carry disease, rather than compost naturally.

Really? With all the rules and the fear of infecting myself with some crazy dirt disease from improper composting there was just no way I was interested in trying it out.

Shortly thereafter I was lamenting this fact to an online friend. I was quite disappointed in not being able to compost because I have a ton of kitchen debris from all the cooking I do, and of course with the garden I have debris from that and a place to use the compost! My friend told me that she doesn’t do any of that stuff that I read about. She said she dumps all manner of stuff out in a big pile, adds to it all the time and come planting time she has a big pile of lovely dirt.

Huh.

That was more up my alley. I was willing to try *that* kind of composting. So, we had to decide: open pile or a compost bin? We decided on a bin (I was still concerned about smell, along with not wanting to attract other critters to my yard). Commercially available bins though, are quite expensive. I opted for an inexpensive garbage can. You know, a full size, outdoor plastic garbage can  with a locking style lid (didn’t want critters knocking over my bin). Chris drilled a few holes in it for air and water to enter, and we started dumping stuff in there.

We started last year. We would add bits of this and that randomly, some garden clippings, some garden debris, some kitchen debris. We weren’t being very good about doing it on a regular basis, but we kept adding things. Admitedly, I was worried about filling up the garbage can, but it never seemed to fill up. At the beginning of garden season this year we did have some lovely dirt to add to our garden! YAY! Composting successful!

So far this year we have made some changes. I have a little bucket on my counter that all of my fruit and vegetable food scraps go into, along with egg shells, coffee grounds and paper towels. I fill that thing up every day or two and out it goes into the can. We also periodically add garden debris and yard debris, like grass clippings. We also moved the can actually into our garden, instead of out behind the shed, so that it is easier for us to get to. As for the smell/stench issue….it has been nonexistant. The only time we really get a smell is if we open the lid and take a big ole whiff.

This year we keep adding and adding and adding, yet the can never fills up. It is the craziest thing! Then one day we are out there and OMG…there are MAGGOTS in my compost bin! The maggots are going to TOWN on the food debris in there. They are eating like crazy; the whole inside of the bin is kind of moving and undulating with maggoty motion, and, even grosser, you can hear them eating. They make quite a bit of noise munching away on all of the nasty rotten food goodness.

I will admit, we kinda freaked out. I have a history with maggots (chicken barn fire when I was a kid, in the summer, in Idaho…it wasn’t pretty) so I was particularly freaked out. However, we decided to do a little research and see if maggots were the kiss of death for my compost pile.

We came across THIS ARTICLE.  I highly, HIGHLY encourage you to go read this article. It is, not only tremendously informative about maggots in general and also in your compost, but it is a HILARIOUS article. The author had me laughing and groaning throughout. Entertaining and educational all in one maggoty mess.

The best part? Some farmer in Phoenix actually grows these bad boys for you and will send them out, mail order. Nice. I love the thought of maggots being shipped all over the US by parcel post! Ha!
Anyway, as the article points out, maggots are superb eaters and turn TONS of household food waste into useable compost at a tremendous rate. There are some pretty incredible statistics about how much food waste can be kept out of landfills if every household and restaurant had a food composting system with maggots. They especially love meat!

Ever since we found the maggots in our compost bin, our every other day or so trip to empty our kitchen food waste container has become…time to feed the maggots!
Inside the compost bin.
Boy do those guys love to eat! I don’t think we are going to name them or anything, but it is kinda fun having our own little maggot farm. And don’t worry, they don’t like the cold so tend to die off as the weather cools.

Seriously though, go read the article above. It is fun, funny and informative!

I gotta go…it’s time to feed the …. maggots!
Munch Munch Munch!
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This entry was posted on August 15, 2011 by in composting, garden, Recycling.
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