Composting can help keep your plants healthy. It also keeps waste away from landfills and prevents the production of methane by the anaerobic bacteria that live there. The aerobic or oxygen-consuming organisms in compost don’t make this greenhouse gas. However, composting can attract pests. Here are some things you can do to keep pests away.
Watch What You Add
Don’t add meat, dairy products, bacon grease, bones, or similar items to your compost. They can become smelly, and they often attract flies, ants, grubs, and maggots. Avoid diseased plants since they could transmit pests or infections to the healthy parts of your garden. Here are some of the materials you can easily compost instead:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Coffee grounds and filters
• Tea bags
• Shredded newspaper
• Nut shells
• Yard trimmings
• Pine straw
• Wood chips
• Cotton or wool rags
• Dryer lint
• Hair and pet fur
• Ashes from wood fires
Choose the Right Size and Ingredient Ratio
If you don’t get the size and ingredients right, your compost could become smelly and attract raccoons and many other pests. A compost pile that’s too small may not get warm enough for the materials inside to decompose properly. If it’s too big, the pile will get too warm, killing helpful bacteria. In rare cases, a compost pile that’s too large can even spontaneously combust. Try to keep your compost pile between 3 and 5 feet in diameter. During cold weather, you can provide insulation by putting additional mulch like leaves or straw on top of the pile. This also keeps pests from getting to vegetables and other food items easily.
Most of your compost will be items high in carbon like leaves, grass clippings, and wood chips. By weight, you should have about 30 times as much of this type of waste as vegetables, coffee grounds, and other kitchen scraps high in nitrogen.
Monitor Moisture and Oxygen Levels
Your compost should be damp for faster decomposition but not so soggy that it encourages mosquitoes or animals looking for water. If it looks dry, spray it with your garden hose. If it’s too wet, add some dry grass clippings or leaves. You can also use a tarp to keep it from drying out or getting too wet in the rain. Once per week, turn the pile with a pitchfork or a shovel to maintain good aeration and moisture distribution.
Use a Physical Barrier
You can keep raccoons, rats, and other animals from foraging for food in your compost by keeping it in a plastic, wood, stone, or wire bin that animals can’t open. Some compost bins are open at the bottom to keep moisture from accumulating and allow access to beneficial insects. Adding a wire screen with small holes will keep mice from burrowing in.
Contact us for help keeping your yard or garden healthy and preventing common pests from coming near your compost. We have decades of experience, and we can deal with a variety of infestation types.