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.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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 have any of that?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 8:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 5:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Questions re: raised bed soil + composting/fertilizing
Hi, everyone! Longtime lurker, first time poster here...
Angelina Zarre
Moldy fruit and breads okay for compost bin?
Are these okay to add to the bin? Won't the mold spread...
Patio Composting
Would like to start composting in a small patio area...
Post hole filled with compost for deep soil conditioning
I am trying to find a way to fix my soil as deep and...
No till garden/no weeds?
Is there a good way to keep weeds down in an established...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™