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Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Posted by scraplolly (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 25, 08 at 15:43

It is a closed bin--purchased black plastic.

I only started it about a month or two ago. The friut flies just swarm out of it whenever I open it to put something in--it is very unpleseant--but is it also a problem?
Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

They aren't harmful to it but a pain to deal with. Sounds like your contents are mostly food scrapes, too wet, and short on dry carbons. What all have you put in so far?

Give it a good dose of dry cardboard or newspaper, whatever you are using for carbons (browns) and let it dry out some. They should leave then.

Dave


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

I agree with Dave, add more browns.

I like to use shredded junk mail...


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Thanks!

I probably put in about a 4L ice-cream pail of kitchen scraps every other day--it's summer, so we're eating a LOT of fresh friut! And it has been raining more than usual--though the bin is closed. But that does mean the grass isn't getting mowed and no clippings are going in.


Someone mentioned dog poop--can I really add that too?

Is it brown or green?

And what are browns? I can't find my little compost info book--though it is here somewhere!


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

never mind--I just found this thread.

Other than some twigs from pruning I put into it in a big mass--I have no browns.

But I can raid my recycling bin for some! Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: How To Start


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Keep in mind for it to balance and work you need 3 parts of carbons (browns) for every 1 part of nitrogens (greens). All your kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc. that you have been adding are nitrogens. So you need 3x as much carbons from the recycle bin. ;)

Dave


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Until you have your compost cookin' properly, I'd leave dog poop out of the equation for now. BTW, it's a brown-colored green.

tj


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

In my experience, lots of fruit brings flies. It is wet and I guess sweet and maybe the smell draws them. Also I've had lots of flies, maggots with too much grass clippings that were also wet, mowed after a rain. So the advice you are getting is good. It's too much "greens" and you need more dry stuff (browns). I too use shredded paper. I just love to shred stuff. Even though dog poop can be composted, even some do humanure with compost toilets and the like, I myself am not so comfortable with that because my hands are in the compost and garden so much. Even with gloves, they tear and I always end up with dirt under my fingernails. I realize that once it's fully composted, it's compost, but often compost is used before it is truly 'finished' 100 percent.
You might throw the dog poop somewhere else, like somewhere you're not going to work the bed? Like I have a big field behind my house where farmers grow soybeans or wheat. There is a sort of buffer zone between my barbed wire fence and his field, where wild roses, honeysuckle and other wild things grow. I like it like that. You could throw the poop somewhere like that. I have a little poodle, so it's not so much a problem, anyway. Happy composting. Laurie


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

What conditions do the larva of most all flies, gnats, etc. need to hatch and grow? Pretty moist, so the presence of any kind of fly around compost is an indication that the material in the compost pile is too wet. Adding some shredded paper could help and adding some dry soil could also help.
While I've not seen it stated this may be another reason adding 1/8 inch of soil Sir Albert Howard suggested doing that and it may be a good reason to go back to that practice, except in a tumbler that would not work.


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Thanks everyone.

I had some old dried out prunings, small twigs, dried grass--about 1/2 a wheelbarrow full. I put that in and the flies died down for about an hour.

Problem is--the bin is now full. I wasn't expecting that so soon!

Now what?


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

If the bin is full you can leave it for awhile. If you can, aerate it (turn it, fluff it) every week or so. The volume in the bin will begin to decrease as things compact down and break down. If you keep adding new stuff, it will be hard to get usable compost. Unless you harvest from the bottom of a pile you just keep adding to and don't mix it around. That's why composter people often have 2 or 3 piles going, becoz at some point you have to let the stuff compost.
Laurie


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Ohhhh. I see. I thought it would compost as I added stuff--and I assumed I weouldn't have anything ready for a year or so. I just didn't realise how fast it would fill!

I'm a bit confused, though.

So, I turn it, then don't add to it.

but then you say:
Unless you harvest from the bottom of a pile you just keep adding to and don't mix it around.

I had actually planned to do this (starting next spring, or this fall or whenever)--so I'm a bit confused at the moment!


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

My understanding is that one can do what's called "continuous composting", where one keeps adding to and turning a single pile or bin, and stuff keeps breaking down. The only drawback with that system is the stuff will be, at any given time, at varying levels of decomposition or "finished-ness". Which means that when one wants compost from a continuous system, the pile has to be sifted with a screen. Anything that falls through is ready for the garden, and anything that doesn't fall through goes back to the pile/bin/system.

Until I overwatered my bin yesterday, it had been shrinking regularly. But I turn every three days (patience is a foreign word to me), so that might be a difference.

(Oh, and re: dog poop... it can carry pathogens, so you probably don't want to use it unless you either don't plan on using any compost in an edible garden or are very sure that you will be able to achieve high temperatures in your bin. Personally, I'm staying away from it because it's hard to get a small bin/tumbler very hot.)


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

dried out prunings, small twigs, dried grass--about 1/2 a wheelbarrow full.

All of which are more nitrogen (green) sources and you already had too much of those in the bin ;). You're pile needs carbons (browns) and lots of them. Search out the thread here called 'what are you using for browns' for many suggestions of what qualifies as carbons. Or as has already been suggested use torn up newspapers and cardboard.

witeowl summed up the process good. If you want to do continuous process composting you will either have to sift it regularly for the good stuff or have multiple piles/bins.

Dave


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

In my experience as a bartender, any amount of fruit at all can attract fruit flies.


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

That was more green?

drat.

I'd better make a list, then, and not rely on my memory!

About the continous thing--I'll have to think on that. I'd like another, but space...still I'd hate to go back to throwing "good" stuff in the garbage. It just feels so good, somehow, making something good out of waterelon rinds, and so on....


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

In my experience, I have piled stuff on the compost pile and at the very bottom was finished compost. I was able to dig out the bottom part to use. Becoz I add large stuff like watermelon rinds, banana peels, twigs, etc, I find it hard to utilize the finished compost among all those new and larger items, and I don't have a sifter, and wouldnt' want to do that. So instead I get a large pile going and stop adding to it. Then I start a second one. The first one will go to finished compost, and I'll start using it, while the second one keeps getting added to. When the finished compost is all used up, I start a new pile there, and the one I was adding to now just sits or gets turned, with no new stuff added. I would love to use unfinished compost, and I would, becoz it will finish up wherever you put it, but I have a little poodle who gardens with me, and she would get into the unfinished food stuffs. It sounds like your system will work if you have a sifter.


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

Some people have built "continuous" composting bins and I helped one person (lives mostly in a wheelchair) made a compost pile that he can feed from the top (there is a berm the pile is built into so he can wheel up there) and then the "bottom" is raised off the ground so finished compost falls down and he can reach in, with a shovel, to remove and use that finished compost. Since I seldom turn my compost piles anymore, until I am ready to use the material, there is often some material that gets chucked into the next bin because it is not finished, usually the topmost material and what is one the outsides.
Eventually, most all organic matter will be digested.


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

It sounds like most of what you're composting is food waste. If that's the case, you should consider vermicomposting. It's a good way to compost your food waste and not have to have a constant supply of "browns". And the resulting vermicompost is really good stuff.

Deanna


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

I hand shredded three newspapers, other assorted bit of paper and a dozen tp rolls today.

I'll keep at it.

PS: we will have bags and bags of leaves come fall.


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

sounds like you are headed the right direction now. I was going to suggest straw for more browns. It works great because its light and clean plus the straw acts as little tubes to bring oxygen in to the center of the pile. If you can get dirty straw from a farmer even better. Bonus poop!
And remember not to over think it. Everything rots eventually!


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

In my experience of being greek,we always had a concrete garden... we never used compost.So when i got my own house,I got confused and we don't read newspaper or have junk mail.even when we go to the toilet we don't use toilet paper,we just use a hose.I tried composting broken plates,cos us greeks,we break plates after we finish eating... it's a compliments to the chef thing.I found out that compost worms don't eat glass.Oh well,I hope this helps


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RE: Millions of fruit flies in my compost bin--is thi a problem?

I started off with one bin and also ran into the question on how to mix and get finished compost while continually adding to it. I ended up making a sifter. It works great! I have no complaints and I continue doing it. I now actually have two different bins and run them the same while sifting out the finished compost. If you want to make a sifter just connect a few 2x4s in a square and attache some 1/4 or 1/2 inch hardware cloth and away you go.


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