Compost Surprises

cjs111October 18, 2010

So I have had a composting bin set up for a while. Its one provided by the city that is a trash bin, with the bottom cut off and large holes drilled on the side. I have not been turning It and I decided it was partially due to the bin being so full. So I got a 2nd bin with the idea that I could split it up into smaller amounts.

When I did that this weekend I had a few surprises. First, I was glad to see the farther I got down I could see stuff was decomposing. Then I found the surprises. 7 mice/ rats and hundreds and I mean hundreds of roaches. It was to the point where I tried to count the number of roaches on my wall and had to stop.

My questions:

Is it typical to get these kids of pests in the compost?

Is there a way to keep them out of a compost bin?

Ive been trying to keep pests out of my yard in an organic fashion and it seems seem like the compost bin is a major home/source of problems. Trying to debate if its worth the time, effort and pests at this point.

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thecompostnerd

I laughed really hard when I read that you tried to count the roaches. Definitely something I'd try and do, too!

Do you have a picture of your composting setup?

Mice love compost piles, especially when there's meat, dairy or oily product in there...you have any of that?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 8:04PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Although mice and rats as well as many other types of vermin can be attracted to compost piles if they are not built correctly, in properly built compost piles they are not commonly found. The Community Gardens of New York City and Chicago have compost piles that are not attrracting mice and rats even though they are around and get into the trash that accumulates.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 7:35AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I don't think rodents or bugs mean that the pile isn't built correctly. Often I think undisturbed compost is simply a nice safe, warm, hidden place to find nest material and food and not be bothered by meddling humans.

Frequent flipping of the compost and/or HOT compost might be less inviting. A tight-fitting lid on the bin, as well as hardware cloth on the ground below will help repel rodents.

Do you have mice or rats in there? Flipping alone might chase little mice (worked for me), but I'd be less likely to go chasing 7 rats.

Karen

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:23AM
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cjs111

compost nerd. photos below.

still have the mice. If i can't figure out to out the mice i may have to out the compost bin.

Any help is appreciated.

below, the compost bins at the far end.

what the bins look like.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 2:18AM
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beeman_gardener(5)

The Mice are just tuned into the satellite dish watching television!!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:51AM
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unasmith

Those bins have mouse-size holes. Get a compost bin that has screening to keep out rodents and flies, or just work the pile loose in the corner against the wall. Very nice corner for that.

My loose piles have only once shown signs of rodents nesting there. The piles do have lots of grubs, worms, snakes, and now and then an ant colony.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 12:45AM
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piranhafem

I live in Tucson and also had a serious cockroach problem in my compost pile. When I moved the bin and pile, I killed hundreds of the suckers. Now I put a thick layer of diatomaceous earth around the outside base of the bin, to prevent more from crawling in. If they try to crawl through the DE, they will die. When I stir the compost, the few that remained in the compost that I moved try to run out, and have to cross the DE, so those die. Now I have few or no cockroaches in the bin. I got my DE from the feed store. You need the food grade, not the pool filter kind.

If you stir the pile frequently, mice and rats won't want to live in it, either. And of course, it will compost more quickly.

--Maureen

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:29PM
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Lloyd
    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:39PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I think hardware clothes & a cat is the best thing.
Nice photo, Lloyd!
I do not care what is in my pile as long as it stays out of my house/bed.
But I know they have always been there, you just could not see them, because they leave at sun raise. It is the whole circle of life thing.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 4:55PM
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nancyjeanmc

Thanks for the outburst of laughter, Lloyd! Just perfect.
I've never had a rodent problem with my compost, and it's exposed. But I don't ever add meats or starches. Just UCG, fruits, veggies, etc. Is that why?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 5:51PM
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Lloyd

I've had the occasional rat and mouse but here are some surprises most people don't see in their composting feedstock.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 5:58PM
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nancyjeanmc

Ah, Lloyd...I see why you have a problem with rodents, albeit only occasionally. You shouldn't be putting whole chickens in. Especially dressed ones.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 6:44PM
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