The Organic Oklahoman

August 1, 2007

Maggoty Compost

Filed under: Compost, Pests, Rot — Josh @ 1:46 pm

Ick.

One of the problems I have with compost is that my kitchen, though it produces a lot of organic waste, doesn’t produce enough to make a hot batch all at once. What ends up happening, then, is that I have to layer it on one bucket at a time. It takes about a month and sometimes I end up with a teaming gob of maggots. The cure for this is to make your compost so hot that it kills the eggs or shoos off the flies. Either way…. You can also leave out meat, which I don’t. I compost everything that comes out of the kitchen.

Anyway, once I get enough ‘stuff’ stored in a bin I then move it and layer it with ‘green’ and ‘brown’ layers to get it to heat up. (This is Rodale’s terminology) It works pretty well–even though it stinks to high heaven. My tomatoes don’t seem to mind either.

As far as the maggots? Well short of lighting a whole batch at a time it may just be something you have to deal with. I have had pretty good luck encasing the batch in grass clippings–top, bottom and sides. (I remove the top layer to add more material.) It seems that a good dense layer of grass will keep the flies out for the most part especially if its green. Just be careful because green clippings which are watered into your compost bin can catch fire.

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July 18, 2007

Death to the Fruit Flies

Filed under: catalogs, Pests — Josh @ 2:50 pm

The story so far:
Fruit Flies grrrr
Fruit Flies grrrr grrrr

Death to the Fruit Flies. No seriously…

The first thing I did was remove my composting bucket from the kitchen proper. We’ve always had fruit flies in the spring and summer but they are particularly bad this year. It’s so bad that I have also noticed swarms of them on my tomato plants in the garden. They’re ‘Super Sweets’ and probably have enough sugar to attract the little buggers. (It’s past time to bust out the neem but that’s another story altogether.)

The reason I removed the bucket was that it was covered with fruit fly maggots. Ick. We eat a lot of fruit this time of the year and even dumping the bucket didn’t deter the flies for long. I’ve put it outside and have suspended composting indefinitely. This was a major step for me as I have not thrown so much as a banana peel into the trash for the last three years. The flies were that bad though.

This removed a great amount of their ready food and as far as I could tell, their primary reproduction site in my house.

The second thing was to get place fruit fly traps. Granted, they are little more than fancy containers of apple cider vinegar but they work well and when you’re done you can toss the mess into the trash. Frankly Ryan’s method of a dish of cider vinegar probably works just as well but the fruit fly traps seem to deliver a knock out punch due mostly to their design. Since I removed the compost bucket and placed the traps (three of them) I have seen a huge reduction in the number of actual flies in my kitchen. For example, the remains of a nectarine now only collects two or three flies while waiting to be disposed of as opposed to fifty like before.

So removed the food and go on trapping/extermination overdrive. I am always leery of spraying pesticides in the kitchen but it seems that cleaning it from top to bottom is a good step. The trick for me has been to make the place as inhospitable as possible.

Having said all of that I have to admit that I have reached the conclusion that it is impossible to get rid of them as long as I continue to bring in large amounts of produce from Walmart. It seems like every time I do so there is an upsurge in the population.

July 12, 2007

Fruit flies…grrrr grrrr

Filed under: Pests — Josh @ 6:32 pm

So this is what I’ve done.

I think my problem is that I’ve reached sort of a ‘critical mass’ of fruit flies in the kitchen and they are multiplying faster than I can get rid of them. I scored a major victory this afternoon, though. I found my compost bucket, even though recently scrubbed and polished, was full of fruit fly maggots again. Nasty. So I up as many of them as I could with plain dish soap–bad for soft bodied insects.

In the past we’ve used these fruit fly traps from Gardener’s Supply and they’ve worked pretty well. But I’m out for a few days. The hole is about an eighth of an inch in diameter so I made my own with a small Ziploc container and an squishy strawberry. I’ve caught about ten or fifteen of the things. I don’t think its enough.

Yesterday I was so desperate that I got out our little stick vac and hunted them throughout the kitchen. I think I got about fifty or so but it was sort of a catch and release project. Whenever I’d turn it off they come pouring out of the end again.

I’ve stopped short of spraying and I’m looking for a deterrent. We’ll see what happens.

Fruit flies…grrrr

Filed under: Pests — Josh @ 4:41 pm

One of the things I detest about composting is the continual presence of fruit flies in the summer. I can’t seem to get rid of the things and this year its particularly bad. Probably because of all the rain.

I’m looking into several options for control so I’ll post them up as soon as I decide on one.

May 14, 2007

Mole Rant

Filed under: Pests — Josh @ 8:57 pm

You know I didn’t mind too much the first year they came and ate all my green beans. It was my first garden and I wasn’t very good at it. The second year, it bothered me and I fixed it with some mole repellant. But this year they’ve hit me where it hurts. Oh the horror! Who knew a mole would eat most of a basil plant?

Lovely sweet juicy basil! Gone! Ohhhh….

That’s it. It’s war.

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