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Crawling compost! Empty Crawling compost!

Post  Coelli on 6/19/2012, 11:21 pm

A lovely lady whom I've never met but found on a Facebook group for my town just let me come to her house and take as much composted horse manure as I wanted, which turned out to be about 3 half-full garbage bags (about all I could manage). The manure on the top was pretty dry and not finished, but underneath it was gorgeous. I took a mix of both. She said the pile was about 2 years old at the bottom.

The problem is it is crawling, and I mean CRAWLING, with sowbugs, earwigs, and at least one very large spider that started crawling toward the top of one of the bags when I opened it at home. There must be hundreds, if not thousands of sowbugs. The lady didn't realize they were there (she hasn't turned the pile) and grabbed a bucket full of the compost to bring to her chickens, who went nuts for it. This isn't a sowbug here and there. It's completely infested with them.

I knotted the bags so they couldn't get out in my car, and they're still knotted up in the back yard now.

I don't have a compost pile yet - this would have been a start - but I'm hesitant to free a thousand sowbugs in my yard. Razz

What can I do? If I had chickens, I'd let them eat the sowbugs. Very Happy If I leave the bags in the sun I wonder if they'll die from the heat? Or just bury down where it's cool? Does anyone have any ideas?

Thank you!!
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Post  Triciasgarden on 6/20/2012, 1:08 am

I just read a few hours ago about making newspaper tubes, wetting them and putting them in the garden at night. The next day you put the newspapers into a ziplock and leave it out in the sun for a day and the heat will kill them. It was the putting them in a ziplock and leaving it in the sun that I hadn't heard of before. I would think any sealed bag would do the trick, my only concern is getting it hot enough to every bit of manure in the bag to kill the earwigs, sow bugs and their potential offspring. It sure seems to me that it should get hot enough.

I would keep the bags in the sun for several days to a week and roll them around every day to redistribute everything and to get it all super hot. That was smart to tie it shut so they can't get out. You sure don't want that many earwigs in your garden. The sow bugs generally eat only decaying matter but one member on this site showed us pictures of sow bugs eating her plant. It was determined that the plant had a branch or leaf that was touching the wood frame or ground. Earwigs I have found will eat anything and I am fighting an infestation myself.

I'm sure others can add to or tell you something better.
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Post  J_in_HamiltonON on 6/20/2012, 9:11 am

Can you leave the bags ties up and in the direct sun for a few days? I'd imagine it would become deadly hot in there, especially where you live. that should cook em Crawling compost! 71441 Crawling compost! 833560

My next thought would be to dump each bag into large garbage cans and then fill it with water, to drown them. But then you would have some very wet manure to deal with.
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Post  Squat_Johnson on 6/20/2012, 10:37 am

From what I have read, sow bugs and pill bugs eat mostly decomposing plant matter. I see them regularly in my garden. My compost pile is mostly old matter now. It is full of them. I don't think it is a big deal.

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Post  GWN on 6/20/2012, 10:45 am

When I lived in Oregon, we had a friend there who was a worm farm compost specialist. He wrote books about them and in fact went all of the place lecturing about it
He maintained the a good compost has many bug types in it, it was kind of a network they all benefitted from and that the compost did too.
I would think that if the stuff at the very bottom was that nice after only 2 y ears with no turning, that the bugs had something to do with it.... thinking
at least I think...
I do always ask people if they give worm medication to the horses before I get manure from them because worm medication kills worm
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Post  rowena___. on 6/20/2012, 10:51 am

@GWN wrote:I would think that if the stuff at the very bottom was that nice after only 2 y ears with no turning, that the bugs had something to do with it.... thinking

agreed. soil doesn't make itself. Smile
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Post  CapeCoddess on 6/20/2012, 11:29 am

Hmmm...from reading these posts it sounds like you should get rid of half of them and keep half of them. Crawling compost! 601593

CC
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Post  Coelli on 6/20/2012, 11:54 am

I think I found the solution to my problem! cheers

I wouldn't care so much about the bugs (I'm not squeamish) but I don't have a lot of space for a compost pile and it's likely to be pretty close to the house (as in, a few feet). I'm concerned that when I dump the compost, the sowbugs will scatter and wind up in the house. I don't mind if sowbugs find the compost pile and populate it over time, but starting off with that many close to the house seems not a good idea when they're likely to scatter.

So then I realized my neighbors 2 doors down have chickens - 5 laying hens of their own and about 30 pullets they're raising for someone else right now. I talked to them and this evening I'll bring the bags over and we can spread the manure/compost out in their chicken yard for the chickens to take care of the bugs. Smile Perfect!
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Post  GWN on 6/20/2012, 12:08 pm

wow what a win win situation and then you will "harvest" the compost......sounds great
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Post  CapeCoddess on 6/20/2012, 2:45 pm

@GWN wrote:wow what a win win situation and then you will "harvest" the compost......sounds great

With chicken poop added! Excellent!
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Post  GWN on 6/20/2012, 2:49 pm


With chicken poop added! Excellent!
I NEVER even thought of THAT PART :scratch: manoman are you EVER going to have a great garden Smile
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Post  Triciasgarden on 6/20/2012, 3:52 pm

That sounds like a good idea to get the chickens to take care of them and you would need that many chickens to take care of that many bugs before they run away and hide. I think if you have sow bugs and earwigs in your yard that is one thing, but introducing a swarm of both would be overpopulating your yard. Both bugs eat decaying matter but earwigs eat anything, decaying matter, live plants, tender plants, tough broccoli and cauliflower leaves, cabbage, the tassels and silk of corn. Plus Spring and Summer are when they are producing more young. Then what? I like the idea of letting your yard and garden have the balance of beneficial, neutral and non-beneficial insects.

So having the chickens eat them would be great, giving the chickens protein to make better eggs.
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Post  Coelli on 6/20/2012, 9:40 pm

These are some VERY happy chickens today. Wink

Crawling compost! 7411438896_41ddf549fd

As predicted, the sowbugs swarmed but were no match for the hens! That was just the first batch. There are still two more bags.
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Post  camprn on 6/20/2012, 9:55 pm

ooooh a most excellent solution!

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Post  rowena___. on 6/21/2012, 10:01 am

i love a happy ending!
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Post  webbee on 6/22/2012, 12:18 am

Sow bugs are part of the markers for the finishing process of the
compost pile. My over winter leaf piles are flush with sow bugs at the
moment. I'm sure the chickens are happy.
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Post  Karenberry on 7/15/2012, 8:12 am

Help! I left the door of my compost tumbler open for a couple days. dangit Is has been rather stinky, and there were about half a dozen flies buzzing around it. Well now there are many light colored worms in there that look rather like grubs (they have several pairs of feet). I admit I didn't get that close to examine them, as I was rather grossed out. Should I be concerned about these? Do you think they will just die if I get the bin hot enough? Thanks, and sorry if this was posted in the wrong area.
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