Macro life in RGGC:
If you have ever taken a fistful of compost in your hand it has a blissful fragrance of sweet earthy smell of first rain; but do you know why the compost smells so good? If not then you must know there is a family thriving in that little pile of your waste working day in and day out enjoying their meal and gift you wonderful soil that is packed with nutrients. One category of microbes are all those creepy, crawly critters who march around. Some of us get freaked out with them, but they do wonders in your compost pile… I want you to walk through few familiar faces. They are the perfect examples of size doesn’t matter!
Black Soldier fly larvae: Yes, you read it right ‘soldier’ and as they name suggest they truly do their job just like a soldier by heavily feeding on our food waste. They are born to EAT voraciously! Don’t worry they won’t harm you, as they are non pathogenic. They have their priorities set! They are here to eat the food waste and transform them into rich compost. Additionally, they are rich source of protein if added in the diet of livestock and can also replace the fish meal from their diet which is the major cause behind overfishing. Birds love to peck on them. If your compost pile is somewhere outdoors, just drop a few of these on the ground and see sparrows, sunbirds, mynas excited to peck on them. They are visitors, and thus they will compost pile after doing their job. Your meet and greet will happen with their pupae (shell like structure). In case, you do not want them in your pile, just ensure that you have added adequate amount of dry leaves, your compost pile should have wrung sponge consistency. Also avoid gravys and very large quantities of cooked food being added into the composter.
Fruit flies: As the name suggests they feed on the acids present in fruits which also help other microbes to feed on simpler form of our food waste and eventually the microbial action breaks down our food waste into the simplest form of which the end product is compost. To keep them away you can rotate your compost pile twice a week, 10 rounds each; and keep them covered with browns. In case the still manage to get their way through, you can create a simple DIY trap for them, by pouring cider vinegar, and a drop of liquid dish soap. Cover the jar with a foil and poke a few holes in them. The flies will get trapped into aroma of cider but won’t be able to escape.
Ants: They are usually seen in the compost when all our food waste has been eaten by other organisms and the pile looks near to ready. They help in proper aeration of compost pile and feed on fungi by bringing its filaments to their nests. As they crawl across the pile, they help in better aeration. They are also known to contribute phosphorus and potassium by mobilizing mineral matter. Phosphates are one of the macro nutrients of compost.
This isn’t it; they are also an indicator of increased acidity or low pH of compost pile. Compost heap usually turns acidic when you have less of leaves and more of food waste. Remember, life is all about the right balance, and so is composting. Throw in some more leaves and turn the pile again to reboot!
While there are all these pros, you don’t want ants heavily infesting and nesting your compost pile. In case this happens, then sprinkle little cinnamon or turmeric to keep them at bay. Lastly, you can keep your composter in a well-lit area which will result in their migration to another place.
Doesn’t their sincere job deserve appreciation? Don’t be disgusted to see them and also you need not be scared of them. Our only duty is to just feed them our food waste and let them do their part. With cumulative efforts from all these tiny little creature, you finally get nutrient rich Black Gold.
Note: Because RGGC is an enclosed system, you won’t find non insect pest such as rodents & reptiles burrowing in. Also, because composting in RGGC is highly aerobic and releases heat, you will not find earthworms in here. The major breakdown in carried out by microscopic bacteria and fungi in the pile. Stay Tuned, we will come up with yet another interesting blog on microscopic family of composting in RGGC.