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Composting Bin DIY Questions - Is it required to keep out rodents?  RSS feed

 
Katherine Oconnor
Posts: 21
Location: Arid, Sunny, 8,000' Buena Vista, Colorado
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Hi Friends,

Right now I've just got a mound of compost at the side of the yard. It's not doing well, too dry. Just a bunch of petrified food.

I've got several pallets and thought I would do the DIY composting bins.

I've seen some versions that line the bin with wire mesh to keep out rodents. Is this necessary?

I thought that I would place my compost directly on the ground, as opposed to having a plywood base. My thoughts are that this would invite worms and other friends into the bin to assist with composting.

What is the preferred direction the bins should be facing?

I live in the dry, sunny high elevation of Colorado at 8,000'.

Attached is a picture of what I thought I would do (no doors, no lid). Thoughts?

Thank you for your time.


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Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I have never put an animal proof fence around a compost pile. With my own eyes, I haven't saw an animal proof fence around anyone else's compost pile.

Edited to specify "animal proof".
 
Katherine Oconnor
Posts: 21
Location: Arid, Sunny, 8,000' Buena Vista, Colorado
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I have never put a fence around a compost pile. With my own eyes, I haven't saw a fence around anyone else's compost pile.


Do you mean fence like the wooden pallets or a fence like wire mesh to keep out critters? Perhaps you mean both are unnecessary?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I've seen plenty of compost piles put into contained spaces with stone, wooden, or wire walls. I can't remember even one that was animal proofed.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I use pallets. No fence necessary.
 
Laurie Dyer
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Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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Katherine Oconnor wrote:Hi Friends,

Right now I've just got a mound of compost at the side of the yard. It's not doing well, too dry. Just a bunch of petrified food.






Sounds like it's too dry, perhaps you could wet it a bit? And start adding urine to it, that'll really get it going.

As far as keeping rodents out, I agree with Joseph; it's very difficult to make a rodent proof compost bin. If you get the compost hot enough though, you can put any new food scraps in the center of the pile. This will break the food down much more quickly, creating less of a temptation for critters. I've seen evidence of rodent/dog activity in my heaps several times. That's why the compost is located as far away as possible from the house.

What I'm saying is: hot compost = food breaks down more rapidly = less desirable for animals.

Also, I started covering my compost with old carpeting. It does a great job of insulating the pile. Keeps the heat and moisture in, really speeds up the process.

Another thing to consider: many permies don't have "compost piles", choosing instead to chop and drop. And they tuck food scraps under mulch, or dig into shallow holes. I have a compost pile because I live in the suburbs on a small lot (.21 acre including house/driveway) and I need to keep things "presentable" for the neighbors.

Good luck in your efforts, remember that everything rots- eventually!
 
Katherine Oconnor
Posts: 21
Location: Arid, Sunny, 8,000' Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thank you everyone for the comments. I'm not particularly concerned about rodents but when I started viewing compost bins I saw a huge amount of wire mesh represented in the photos and thought I had better ask.  Appreciate the feedback, will keep you all posted on the results.
 
Daniel Schmidt
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Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I think some people use wire mesh so they can stack the pile up in a more contiguous cube as opposed to spilling out to the sides like a lump of melting ice cream. The wire mesh allows plenty of air. I've seen some that put the mesh on the ground on top of wood posts or trenches dug in the ground to allow even more airflow. I don't personally recall ever hearing of it being used specifically to keep a particular creature out.

That being said, I have found the odd snake in my slow compost pile. Lots of insects draw in lizards that eat insects, and in turn brings snakes that eat lizards. Nothing scary or poisonous yet. However, if you do find your pile drawing the types of creatures that poisonous snakes like to eat, then you might want to be careful. If you keep the compost pile hot with all of the right amounts of nitrogen, carbon, air, and moisture then it would probably be too hot for most animals to live inside the pile.
 
Katherine Oconnor
Posts: 21
Location: Arid, Sunny, 8,000' Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thank you! That explains the mesh. Not for critters but for containment/air. I have started on the pallet compost stable/bin and it's actually a very difficult project. Pallets are awkward and heavy! I'll post photos when I'm finished.
 
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