Best Composting Tips

Jane23

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My compost bin is an old tank that once held spray foam. It was a pain to clean out, but then my husband and I welded it to a stand with a handle so it could be turned. The door doesn't shut quite right because I was concerned I would cut myself, so it has some tubing from the hardware store around the edges of the door I cut into it.

I mostly fill it with scraps from food preparation, no meat, and plants I have pulled out of my garden for the year. It will be interesting to see what it becomes next year.
 

Branching Out

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We have three black plastic compost bins, and in the winter it is so difficult to keep rats out of them. Part of this was a mistake on my part: I topped off the compost with a nice thick layer of fluffy leaves, so it was warm and dry in there. Usually I finish off the top of the bin with manure and a generous sprinkling of lime, and I am kicking myself for not doing that this time. The plan is to get some lime sprinkled in there as soon as possible, and I picked up a roll of 1/2" hardware cloth to place on the bottom of the bins, to prevent the rodents from tunnelling in via the openings in the bottom. Has anyone tried hardware cloth to exclude rats, and if so-- did it work??
 

flowerbug

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We have three black plastic compost bins, and in the winter it is so difficult to keep rats out of them. Part of this was a mistake on my part: I topped off the compost with a nice thick layer of fluffy leaves, so it was warm and dry in there. Usually I finish off the top of the bin with manure and a generous sprinkling of lime, and I am kicking myself for not doing that this time. The plan is to get some lime sprinkled in there as soon as possible, and I picked up a roll of 1/2" hardware cloth to place on the bottom of the bins, to prevent the rodents from tunnelling in via the openings in the bottom. Has anyone tried hardware cloth to exclude rats, and if so-- did it work??

as long as they can't push it up and go around it they should not be able to get through. you may need to make sure it is the proper size to fit across the whole bottom and have it weighted enough. they shouldn't be able to chew through it.
 

Branching Out

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as long as they can't push it up and go around it they should not be able to get through. you may need to make sure it is the proper size to fit across the whole bottom and have it weighted enough. they shouldn't be able to chew through it.
This is very welcome news. I will proceed with the hardware cloth then. Thank you Flowerbug!
 

ducks4you

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I found a different place to dump soiled bedding this winter, so as to keep one area free for compost excavation. Last year's stall dump area looks so nice I want to take and spread it all over my big garden in a few months.
@Branching Out . I don't think those leaves will break down if they stay dry. I put some bags of leaves from 2 years ago onto my 3' x 6' bed (that I never planted in 2022) and covered with the lawn and leaf bags I used to transport.
They never got wet. Go figure!
DD"s have big and old trees on their corner lot and I used my bag mower (since dead, and replaced as a Christmas present,) to chew them up.
They were exposed but didn't break down. I broke them up and now they Are breaking down, just in time to be covered by fresh horse manure with straw, then a layer of well rotted horse manure and bedding from the shelter.
If your leaves had been wet, the rats wouldn't have like them so well.
 

Branching Out

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If your leaves had been wet, the rats wouldn't have like them so well.
You are so right. I may have been caught up in how beautiful the dry fall leaves looked when I used them to top off the compost bin. At that moment rats were the furthest thing from my mind, when they should have been a top priority. Yesterday I watered the bins, and then sprinkled some lime over the leaves. Next week we have drier weather in our forecast, and I will try to turn the piles to get the bacteria motivated to start munching everything up. I will wear rubber dish washing gloves, so that I can have a good scrub afterwards.
 

Jane23

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as long as they can't push it up and go around it they should not be able to get through. you may need to make sure it is the proper size to fit across the whole bottom and have it weighted enough. they shouldn't be able to chew through it.
Mice and rats can chew through anything, even plastic. Our shop vacuum has a hole in the top now. I guess a mouse was looking for a house this winter and that wasn't thin plastic.
 

Branching Out

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So a while back I said that I don't turn my compost, but I am having to dial that one back a bit. Today was warm enough to be out in the garden, and I moved some half finished compost to a shorter half-sized bin so it can finish doing its thing over the next couple of months. Some of the remaining material was still quite coarse, so that stuff got added to the top of another compost bin that has been in progress since the fall. This essentially amounts to turning the compost, and I can now see the benefit of doing this-- especially during late winter when the compost stays kind of wet and heavy, and really needs an injection of air.

I have three full-sized bins. One we are adding things to, and it is almost full of kitchen scraps, autumn leaves, coffee grounds, and rabbit manure. The second bin is now empty (yay!), and the third one is about 2/3 full of partly finished compost. I think I will try Ridgerunner's suggestion and take advantage of that empty bin and use it for turning the contents of the partly finished bin in a few weeks. If it speeds up the decomposition it will be a real boon to my spring garden. Funny that I never would have thought to keep one bin empty just so you could turn the compost, but it seems like a really good idea.
 
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