Snails! I saw at least 3 tiny ones in one of the compost bins today. It’s quite hard to tell if there are more though, unless I start digging right into the compost bins.
But these snails were indeed an endearing sight to behold. Each of them are really small (about the size of my pinky fingernail), has a bright green-coloured body, and a shell that seems quite glossy/translucent.
Now, I’m not sure if the last two attributes are due to the “muddy” material in the compost piles or the plastic translucent material of the bins. I didn’t take the snails out, I simply observed them through the bins.
I tried taking a few pictures, but poor me is still unable to afford a good camera. So I tend to alternate between using my mobile phone camera and an extremely old camera, which I always have to return to my sister.
Camera sponsors or donators, anyone? 🙂
BUT! I managed to find a picture online that quite closely resembles the snails I saw:
Unfortunately, the website source of this picture does not state any useful information on the snail. Do let me know if you are able to distinguish its breed, function and purpose!
Nevertheless, I googled and found a snail that seems quite similar to the picture above – the C. Lubrica, also known as the Glossy Pillar Snail. It doesn’t say much about its composting uses though. Information on it is generally limited too, and I am still unsure if the C. Lubrica is indeed the exact breed of snail I saw in the compost bin.
Here are a few pictures I took of a snail that remained in sight. Once again, my sincere apologies on the poor picture quality.
Are snails good for a compost pile?
I read online that snails are generally good decomposers – they help break down waste into compost material. However, you would want to first remove the snails from your compost before you use it as plant fertiliser. Otherwise, they may end up eating your plants!
Next, I would like to announce that our two compost bins have turned 7 weeks and 9 weeks old respectively.
Likewise, in this current “lazy” experiment that we are doing for apartment composting, we are once again pleased to say that there are no odours or pests at all. This is despite neglecting our compost bins since about a month ago (28 April 2010).
“What’s this lazy experiment?” you say. Well, allow me to recap:
Normal and recommended composting methods require the compost materials to be mixed before adding into the bin. The bin also needs some turning and mixing occasionally to keep the compost pile aerated.
However, Joe and I decided to be “rebels” about this by composting our stuff in layers – simply dumping the raw food scraps/waste into the compost pile and then covering it with a thick layer of ‘browns‘ (e.g. hay). We repeat this again when there are new food scraps to be added.
Why are we doing this?
We are currently conducting our own research to see if composting could work even for a person who is considerably “lazy” or “unmotivated” to compost in a tropical climate like Singapore.
This target group includes busy working adults, housewives, unmotivated teens etc who might just want to get rid of food waste the easiest way besides trashing them down the rubbish chute. If you think about it, a large percentage of our local fellow Singaporeans still have a long way to go about adapting a environmentally friendly lifestyle.
By purposefully creating our compost pile in layers and not mixing/turning the pile, we are simulating a composting method which is considerably most hassle-free.
The result? Follow our regular updates here.
Next, with our current open container method with hay as the cover material, we have been able to improve bin aeration, whilst allowing rain water to freely fall into the compost piles. This also allows heat from the sun to keep the compost bins warm during the day. Remember that the 4 essentials for composting are: food, air, moisture and warmth. (For more information, click here.)
We are proud to say that this “lazy” composting method works even for apartments, albeit we are finding ways to improve the rate of composting. So don’t worry if you don’t own a garden or backyard! We are apartment residents too, and this ain’t stopping us from composting waste into yummy goodness for plants.
Don’t grow plants? Sell or give away your compost! Or why not “help” the public outdoor plants around you? 😉
Apart from snails being the latest discovery in our apartment compost bins, we also noticed some organisms which seemed strikingly familiar to the ones we first discovered on 22 April (click here to view the must-read entry).
Note: Because of the nature of this entry, I have to scale down on the size of the pictures. For the original size of the picture above, click here.
Click here for a larger view.
Click here for a larger view.
We recently learnt that those grubs that we saw on 22 April were highly likely to be larvae of the Black Soldlier Fly (BSFs). They are incredible composting friends (not fiends) to have in your compost pile. (Read more information here.)
The pictures above – are they BSFs? They are really quite small to tell. The ones we saw the previous time were slightly larger and thicker, and they were moving by swaying their bodies from side to side. The ones that you see above are rather small and still. Maybe, just maybe, they are still relatively young larvae, and would require more time to grow into larger moving ones.
By the way, we found them underneath the lid of one of our compost bins. If you have read in one of our earlier entries, we were “forced” to cover one of the compost bins so we could stack the other bin on top of it. This was to make space for some cementing floorwork at my HDB block over the past few days.
Well, one thing did struck me: These maggot-like organisms seemed to be mostly found on the underside of the lid, just like the previous time. Why?
It also seemed like the compost bin would have to be covered for a few days or so, before these organisms were found on the underside of the lid and on the inside surfaces of the bin. Again, why? (My guess for now: covering the bin prevents birds or predators from eating the organisms.)
I guess I will need to do more research on BSFs before I can find any answers to the above questions and puzzling observations.
Oh my, I just remembered: I absentmindedly left the lids to sun at the corridor. I wonder if those organisms are still alive and growing on the lid. Darn.
And finally, a few pictures of the compost bins’ current state:
Of course, the entire composting process can be done in a shorter time. To us, 7 weeks or 9 weeks is considered quite a long time, as we were initially hoping to compost everything in less than a month considering Singapore’s all-time tropical weather.
We are also intending to start a new compost pile soon, which will incorporate some new improvements (e.g. using coffee grounds as a compost starter). This will probably take place once Joe and I are able to find a larger-sized container to store more amounts of food and household wastes. We also prefer a transparent container so we can record observations and share them with you.
We might also be attempting to compost… cooked food with our aforementioned “lazy” method. Will it be the start of a disastrous outcome? We are keeping our fingers crossed, and we hope hay will still remain as our miraculous cover material that prevents odours and pests.
With snails, grubs and even mushrooms in our compost bins, we wonder what we will discover in time to come.
Watch this site for more updates!