Creating your own garden compost is a great way to reduce your waste, save money on your garden, and ensure that you’re getting all-natural nutrition for your garden. However, many people hesitate to start composting in their own yard out of fear of attracting pests.
It’s true that compost piles can attract the attention of creatures, from raccoons and rodents to snails and mosquitoes. Here are some tips to prevent problems, and ensure that your garden compost is as beneficial to your home as it is to your tulips!
- First off, you should never add meat, dairy, fat, and other animal products to your compost pile. That includes cat and dog feces. This attracts flies and rodents, and contributes to a bad smell in your compost. If you find that mice or raccoons are getting into your compost pile, it’s often because of these scraps. Egg shells are good for your compost pile, but if you’re worried about pests, rinse and crush them before adding to the pile.
- Keep it properly aerated. Aerobic bacteria that contribute to the composting of your pile can’t thrive if the compost isn’t turned and shuffled every now and then to let it breathe. A stagnant composting pile also attracts earwigs and pill bugs, which aren’t beneficial for your garden or home. Turn and mix your compost pile regularly.
- Keep it at a good temperature. Pillbugs or sow bugs love compost piles. And it’s true that they help the composting process along, but they can also be harmful to your garden if you add them to young roots. In order to get rid of them, keep the pile heated to a good temperature. Usually, when composting, it will naturally be warm. You can also spread out the compost in the sun every now and then to get rid of bugs, before re-piling it.
- If your composting pile smells repellent and rancid, it can attract flies and other bugs. Some people believe this is a natural and unavoidable effect of composting, but it’s simply not true! If your compost pile smells bad, you may have too many large kitchen scraps and not enough fibrous material, like shredded leaves, bark, or grass clippings. You can prevent this problem by chopping up your kitchen scraps more finely and mixing them into newspaper scraps or corn husks.
- Cover your compost pile. Many pre-made garden composters are enclosed to prevent critters from getting in. If you’re creating your own compost pile, you can cover it with wire mesh and ensure that kitchen scraps are always mixed with and covered by a healthy layer of sawdust or ash.
- Always make sure that you’re mixing 50/50, meaning 50% of green materials (like kitchen scraps and greens) and 50% of brown materials (like sawdust, shredded newspaper, tree bark, and corn cobs) to keep your compost well-balanced. Remember that that 50% is measured by weight, not volume. Kitchen scraps tend to be more dense, and so you’ll need more brown material to balance it out.
If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have problems with pests in your compost pile. If you’re seeing problems, contact us for professional and personalized advice. Sometimes, the thing luring pests is different from what you expect!