Does compost attract wildlife?

wannaflower(5)February 21, 2014

We are moving outside of town where there is plenty of wildlife. My husband has plans for a garden & we would like to compost (haven't been able to with the HOA). My question is, will the veg. scraps that go into a compost pile attract raccoons & possums?

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paleogardener(9)

This is one reason why composting bones, meat n dairy & processed food is not recommended. But kitchen scraps mixed into a host of other stuff like browns & yard waste & buried into the middle of a pile isn't going to attract mammals IMO. Ants it will attract, but just turn & water the pile.
Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:36PM
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klem1

Problems with wildlife invading compost is grossly overblown. Meat,fish and dairy products make good compost but will atract dogs cats and varmits. Deer and rabbits are attracted to tender plants and raccoons are especialy attracted to corn about 1 week before it's ready for harvest as roasting ears/corn on the cob. I would trade svb,hornworm,sb and grasshoppers for furry friends any day.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:33AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Compost, when not made properly, can attract unwanted wildlife as well as domestic animals. Questions on how to prevent them from visiting the compost pile are frequent here. Meat and fish scraps put in to compost seem to be the largest draw although wildlife may visit just out of curiosity. A properly built compost pile will smell of good rich earth, something not usually attractive to wildlife.
Perhaps this composting tutorial may be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 6:45AM
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lazy_gardens

My problems with compost invaders (suburban Phoenix) has been limited to the danged birds picking over anything I put in the bin, and some of them burrowing into it searching for bugs. I put plastic poultry mesh wrappers on the outside to keep them from undermining the pile.

Large quantities of anything might attract raccoons - spoiled fruit especially - but they are looking for a substantuial calorie-rich haul, like the dogfood bag.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:42AM
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wannaflower(5)

Thank you all for responding! My next order of business (when I have time) will be to study out the proper way to start a compost pile.

I was just telling my husband about this & he said it will probably be next year when he starts his garden & compost. My thinking is, I want to get a jump on the compost if it takes time to get ready & I would rather put veggie scraps in a compost pile rather than the septic.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:36PM
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wannaflower(5)

Thank you all for responding! My next order of business (when I have time) will be to study out the proper way to start a compost pile.

I was just telling my husband about this & he said it will probably be next year when he starts his garden & compost. My thinking is, I want to get a jump on the compost if it takes time to get ready & I would rather put veggie scraps in a compost pile rather than the septic.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:37PM
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mckenziek(9CA)

I have only been composting for like three years, so take it for what it is worth.

I recommend that you read the humanure handbook. It is available to read for free online (the author put it on line). While the book is about composting human manure safely, it is also a great book about composting in general.

My kitchen waste compost bin is a 4 foot cube made out of 1/2 inch hardware cloth (including top and bottom) on a wood frame. So vermin can't get inside. I don't know if that is really necessary, but if you build it that way you won't have to worry about rats, mice, or racoons getting in.

One of my friends has a compost bin that is not vermin proof, and it does receive visits from wildlife (probably racoons). He doesn't worry about it, but it would bother me. My friend puts all kitchen waste in the bin (including some bones and meat scraps), and does not cover with dry leaves or anything. We put all kitchen waste in our bin, but we do cover with dry leaves which makes it look tidy and not smell and helps balance out the overly damp kitchen waste.

I think in general if you use enough dry "brown" material to soak up the excess moisture of kitchen waste, the compost will be non-smelly and PROBABLY unattractive to vermin. When the bin is full enough and moist enough to sustain high temperature composting (which it will do at some point, if you put all your kitchen waste in there) I don't see how small animals like mice and rats could stay in the bin. They would get cooked.

--McKenzie

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 6:13PM
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bobcrabb(8b)

I directed my game camera toward my compost pile where I put lawn cuttings and kitchen scraps. In two weeks time, I checked the camera and found lots of activity. There were raccoons, possums, skunks, house cats, dogs, a wild hog, and even an armadillo although he may have just been passing by. So the answer is yes.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:18PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

I would definitely start the compost asap. Even in winter, you have kitchen scraps, no need to let them go to waste. Then you'll have some compost for the new garden when it's time.

Critters, you kinda have to take on a case by case basis. "Observe and adjust."

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 1:36PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Yes, I do get some critters, particularly in the winter when my pile is frozen and additions can't be buried. Mostly it's coyotes and crows. No problems with black bears visiting or dogs or as far as I can tell fox, raccoons, skunks or opossums. I put all kitchen scraps in. However, I don't mind sharing, and I don't find that the critters leave a mess or bother the veggie garden which is right next to the compost piles.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 2:11PM
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elisa_z5

I've been tossing apples into the compost as they spoil in storage (we had SO many this year, really can't eat them all) and ended up with a raccoon on my porch yesterday, climbing up the railings and taunting the dog through the window. So, um, thanks for the heads up on the "quantities of fruit" attracting raccoons. :)

No harm done, though. Either the bacteria/fungus or the raccoons can eat the apples, I don't mind which one does.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:42PM
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lazy_gardens

wannaflower - You can also do "trench composting".

When you have the location picked out for the vegetable beds, dig a trench along where you will have a row later. As you have kitchen scraps, lay them in the trench a few inches deep and cover them with dirt and let them rot in place.

My neighbor when I was a child used to do that. Where her trenches were one year was where she planted her veggies the next year - she kept moving the rows back and forth a couple of feet.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:52PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

The food scraps in a compost pile can attract animals, but there are some things that can be done to help minimize that - containers, fencing, keeping the compost under a thick cover of browns....

But keep in mind, the compost pile isn't any more attractive to critters than the food growing in the garden, which is just as attractive if not more so to many of them critters too...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Trench composting in Zone 5 areas might be somewhat difficult now and if a compost pile is too frozen to dig in and add material the material is too wet. Even with temperatures of late down to minus 15 degrees my compost is not that frozen, and near the center of the 4 x 4 x 4 pile there is still heat indicating bacterial activity.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:20AM
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