Purchased Bin, Bokashi, Worms
December 4, 2021
Hi nmmastercomposters! I just purchased a compost bin and assembled it. It’s a Juwel AeroQuick 77 Gallon Stationary Composter. It has seven 2”x 1/4” holes close to the bottom of two sides, so 14 of them. Also the slide in-and-out doors on the other 2 side have spaces that let in air. The top latch is not catching/locking as I think it was designed to, either by my error in assembling it or manufacturer defect, so I’m going to need to secure it down with tape or a piece of flagstone.
Several years ago I started composting in an uninformed way. I live in a rural area and I had unwanted consequences, and I really want to get it right now. I have heard that mice can get in to 1/4 holes from pest management professionals. It does seem that some air is desirable, not a totally anaerobic composting. My questions are:
1) Should I modify the bin, such as taping up the 1/4” holes half way lengthwise and one of the sliding doors, or does it seem like it will be OK as is?
2) Should I create a floor for the bin, as it is bottomless, with heavy black plastic or cardboard or something else?
Also I got a Bokashi system which came with Bokashi mix. Is there a recipe for making your own Bokashi mix?
And I got a worm composter, which arrived yesterday and I haven’t even pulled it out of the box yet. Is it a strictly indoor proposition in the winter, or is it according to a temperature they need? I got a Worm Factory from Uncle Jim’s. I don’t have worms yet, but I did see the resources on the nmcomposters.org site.
So I’m going all in on composting. Trash to treasure and putting things to their best use resonates with me, and I’m actually excited about it, looking forward to getting going. I’ve learned a lot on the webinars for composting with JZ , but now it’s actually putting it to the test.
Answer by JZ: Great to hear that you have been busy getting your composting setups in order. Here are my thoughts: The Juwell Aeroquick bin is quite porous and will allow for significant evaporation / loss of moisture. Possible fixes using a good quality duct tape and / or a suitable caulk or a combination thereof. Each corner section has a small air gap running from top to bottom, the bottom collection doors do not fit snugly, the top does not close snugly and of course there are multiple air intake holes along the bottom edge.
Decide which harvesting door at the bottom you’ll use in the future, then tape shut the other bottom sliding door. Over tape all of the air intake holes at the bottom perimeter. This will make the bin more snug. This will also reduce the possibility of rodent entry. Air intake will come from around the cracks in the collection door (untaped) which you’ll use in the future.
The bottom should freely drain liquids, so underlining with plastic is not desirable. Underlining the whole bottom area of the bin with 1/4” hardware cloth would allow for drainage and at the same time discourage entry of rodents. The hardware cloth should cut big enough to upward overlap the bottom edge of the bin where the the air holes are. You would not be able to overlap the cloth over the collection door, because then you’d have a time accessing the finished compost.
You may facilitate air flow in a snug bin by using bulking material as you build up organic material in the bin. Subsequently you’ll get convective upward air movement in the bin which is explained on this page via a Compost Info page in our main menu.
As the top does not close snugly / tightly be sure to cover / drape the top inside contents of the bin. I repurpose an appropriate sized piece of plastic to cover the top of my pile inside the bin. This will decrease upward evaporative moisture loss.
A Bokashi mix (make your own) is described here: https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/bokashi.html Eventually you may add Bokashi bucket contents to you soil or your compost bin.
As you are just beginning with the Worm Farm, I’ll suggest that you start indoors. Get used to working with it.
Hope that this helpful. Get back if you have questions. All the best.
Answer by RB: Yes it is possible to make your own Bokashi bran, and even with the cost of the EM1, it is much more economical. Here are a couple resources on the Internet:
How To Make DIY Bokashi Flakes
An excellent resource on Bokashi which contains a recipe for the bran is Adam Footer’s book Bokashi Composting: Scraps to Soil in Weeks. I highly recommend it.
There is a link on our website that goes into Bokashi composting in some detail. It pretty much covers what would be included in the class, you may find it useful.
Hopefully this will prove helpful. Good for you for going all out on composting!
Answer by RR: Leaving your open-bottomed bin in contact with the ground allows worms and microbes in the ground to enter the compost material, while a small (1/8″ – 1/4″) hardware cloth will keep out the unwanted pests, as JZ said. I have a different brand of compost tower that also has an open bottom. I built a small wooden pallet, covered it with 1/4″ hardware cloth and weed barrier, and placed the tower on it. This, combined with bulking material and taping the side openings, facilitates convective upward air movement. Thanks for your interest in composting.