Well, believe it or not, we finally got around to setting up our own composting bin in our backyard. And I have to say, don’t wait for summer to do this as that’s when the flies are at their peak! It’s easier to start in colder weather so you can get the hang of it and learn how to manage your compost properly (to prevent it from attracting flies) before the warm weather hits. Unless of course you live somewhere freezing cold – in that case, you’ll need to wait for Spring.
Also, your tendency may be locate it close to your house so you don’t have far to walk, but, we learned to locate it as far away from the house as possible, so insects don’t fly in your door, or join you in your patio dining! Well, now that I’ve managed to put you off the idea entirely…
Seriously, it’s how you manage the bin that counts. Proper set-up and management will reduce any insect or rodent interference with your eco-friendly efforts. Most importantly, you need to alternate a carbon layer with a fermenting layer, so you alternate brown/dry with green/wet.
1. Start with a layer of straw (dry) or twiggy material on the bottom, this allows air to circulate up through the bin.
2. Continue with alternating layers of brown/dry (fall leaves, straw, newspaper strips) to provide carbon and green/wet (grass, garden waste, food scraps).
3. Store up food waste in a covered bucket under your kitchen sink, and add your scraps to the outdoor bin once or twice a week. Or, if you have a large family, you may need to add them every day or two!
4. Keep a bucket of dirt next to your bin so that when you add a layer of food scraps (uncooked fruit and veggies only – no meat, fish, grains, dairy, oils), you can sprinkle it with dirt (kills smells and fly eggs), and then top it off with a brown layer. If the food is well buried each time, you won’t attract rodents with the smells. This is where we messed up, we skipped adding a layer of dirt!
5. Make sure you mix everything up well at least once every two weeks with a pitch fork or compost aerator (available at most nurseries and hardware stores).
Tips from the Master
Store up your dry fall leaves in garbage bags or cans so you always have a brown source on hand. Keep a bucket of soil handy, too.
We recommend setting the bin up in a sunny spot right on the soil, but if a shady area on the patio is all you’ve got, go ahead.
Extra Rodent Protection
For added rodent resistance, Wes Barrett recommends a sheet of hardware cloth (1/2″, 20 gauge wire mesh) which you can lay on the ground, then set your bin on top of it. That way rodents can’t burrow up underneath.
Free Composting Bin?
Check with whoever is in charge of composting or a similar policy in your local city as many cities now offer either a free composting bin, or they’ll greatly subsidize the cost – we got ours from our city Engineering Dept. and paid only $20 for it.