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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Worms and Larvae Arrive

I finished the BFL collector/compost bin several days ago.  I added a bin from a discarded refrigerator as the catch tray which is handily held in place with the wire handle of the bucket from which I made the bin.  You can see the top flap which is cut out of the upper part of the bucket and then secured on one side with 'Gorilla Tape' (a sort of super duct tape) and has a tab on the other side which serves both as a handle to open the flap when I want to add more compostable materials and keeps the flap from going into the bucket.
The BFL, or 'Reptiworms' arrived in good odor.  There was a smell of ammonia, but I would expect that if they are busy eaters.  They were very active so I dumped them in the bucket and will wait to see what they make of the 'escape' ramp.  I should probably place the entire setup under a net to prevent birds from feasting on the mature larvae in the catch tray.  The tray can easily be detached and put in my chicken coop.  I plan to scatter some of the mature larvae in places where they can continue the process by turning into Black Soldier Flies and mating. 
The worms arrived in the same post.  They were wiggling nicely and had an earthy smell.  I put most of them into the prepared tray of my Vermihut and scattered the remaining worms in the damper areas of my grow bins.  I only put them in one bin each of the two sets of three bins.  I expect they will migrate from bin to bin since the holes in the shower drains I used as connectors are easily large enough to let the 'red wrigglers' pass.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Design Changes to BFL Collector Vermi Hut Ordered

My son critiqued my finished project and recommended that I cut the pipe in half to allow access to the ramp from above.  That seems logical.  At this point I'm looking forward to delivery of the larvae.  I have engaged another family to save their food waste so there is plenty for the little critters to eat when they arrive.  I've also ordered a 'Vermihut', which is similar to the 'Worm Factory' as a worm composting environment.  As I understand it, worms are somewhat pickier eaters than Black Soldier Fly Larvae.  While the BFL will eat almost any food waste with the exception of potato skins and dairy products, worms prefer more of a salad type of diet.  My aim is to have protein supplements for my chickens and the fish I eventually plan to raise in my aquaponics setup.  Some of the worms I have ordered will go directly into my grow bins, hopefully to serve a useful purpose in breaking down the organic wastes.  The rest will take up residence in the Vermihut.  From what I've read online, the Vermihut may run somewhat hotter than the Worm Factory, due perhaps to the design of the latter which is elevated.  It seems to me that setting the Vermihut on top of a few concrete blocks would serve to add ventilation, achieved in the Worm Factory by longer legs on the bottom of the system.  Who knew I would be eagerly anticipating shipments of worms and maggots?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Different Twist on a BFL Collector

I am going to be receiving some BFL from in a few days.  I want to give them a home, but I'm not equipped to make the Garden Pond BFL collector or pay for a BioPod.  So this is the design I've made.  The body is a Lowe's bucket, cheap at less than $3.00.  The ramp is a length of 2" ABS pipe.  I have some stainless steel screws left from my fish tank construction and lots of lumber ends and pieces for the stand at the back that gives a tilt to the bucket and keeps it from rolling. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Like Minds but Different Skills

I was browsing over at and came across a thread called 'my slimline aquaponics system'.  This is an initial image before he added glass fish tanks and clad the entire system with the same elegant wood.   I immediately noticed that he used six bins plumbed together in two sets each connected to a bell siphon.  On the other hand, while my system looks pretty industrial and clearly shows its roots in my desire to repurpose and recycle items where I can, his system is elegant and sleek.  I found another thread by the same poster which features pictures of his compact chicken coop which he installed over a water storage tank.  It also shows the same high level skills of carpentry.
I noodle around with saws and hammers, drills and screwdrivers, but although I've been proud of some of my constructions, usually it is because of a high degree of function rather than elegance of execution.
A few examples of my work are found in my living room.  I found kitchen carts with granite tops at a local store at a price that was less than the cost of the granite.  I purchased three of them.  I converted two of them into matching consoles that hold various items of my home entertainment system.  I cut about six inches off the legs, repositioned the bottom shelf and added panels made from matchstick place mats stained dark and mounted on thin sheets of plywood.  The fronts drop down for access to projector, speakers, DVD etc.  I left the third one tall but cut down the width and length to make a table that sits next to my back door.  The drawer holds keys, the top a mail sorting box, and a kitchen sized trashcan fits under the top.
Another project is a TV cabinet that fits in the corner of my living room.  The top holds a flat-screen TV and the bottom is home to children's books and toys for when my grandkids visit.  I made it out of plywood and piano hinges with oriental hardware ordered from the internet.  People have mistaken it for an antique.  I've made some nice frames for large pieces of stained glass, but most of my carpentry work is more functional than it is attractive.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fishy decisions

After reading through nwestwood's thread over at I decided that trout would be my best choice for my fish tank.  He tried blue gill but they didn't thrive very well.  Next he tried bass and then trout, thinking of the trout only for the cooler months.  However he found that the trout did fairly well right through the summer months.  I initially planned to stock my tank with blue gill, but I found they are difficult to obtain locally and tilapia, which many favor for aquaponics, are illegal to grow without variances and various bureaucratic hassles.  Since I'm not all that fond of tilapia as an eating fish, this is fine with me.  Nwestwood also uses goldfish to control algae in his sump, a good hint.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Expanded Shale Added to Grow Tanks, Water System Working

I should install and garden lounge chair in the greenhouse.  With the evaporative cooler working and the water works from the aquaponics setup adding the sound of gushing water, it's delightful

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bell Syphons in joined bins working fine

On the same day that we discovered the problem with the fish tank which has been rectified in the intervening week, we ran water into the joined bins that make up two grow tanks.  Three 27 gallon bins were joined with ABS pipe as a consolidated grow tank, draining with one bell syphon.  We made two sets and each performed very well.  Now that the fish tank is stable we are going ahead with adding expanded shale to the grow bins.  I have some seedlings growing in vermiculite in preparation for transplantation into the grow tanks.