September 20th, 2011

Keeping Critters Out of the Compost Pile

Last week you recommended burying kitchen scraps to let them compost directly in the soil. But I have seen raccoons in my neighborhood. What if they dig up my garden to get at the compost?

blog-dougWhether you compost aboveground or below, animals may be attracted by the smell of the composting scraps and dig into the pile in search of something edible. Fences will keep out neighborhood dogs but they aren’t much help when it comes to excluding other digging or burrowing animals, such as rats, field mice, and raccoons.

Some manufactured composting bins and tumblers are designed to be critter-proof, with solid sides and tight-fitting lids. Homemade compost bins can be lined with wire mesh or hardware cloth. When pit composting, bury the compostables under several inches of soil. This makes it less likely that marauding animals will smell food and dig.

Don’t add meat or dairy products to your compost pile. If the problem with unwanted wildlife persists, eliminate kitchen scraps entirely and compost only yard wastes—things that won’t interest raccoons, like leaves, grass clippings, shrub prunings, and weeds.  —Doug Hall

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Comments

    I’ve been taught that it’s okay for li’l critters to get into the compost. It does the task of turning the compost over and feeds air to the bacteria that is breaking down the organic matter. I can’t say that I’m a fan of raccoons (I woke up to trash scattered across my lawn and the dog was inside all night), but they have a right to survive. It’s the diversity of our ecological systems that insure our future. The soil needs all those nutrients and I have a hard time throwing food in the trash. The raccoons will get it anyways. I don’t mind when they make a mess of dirt, but having to pick up lots of pieces of trash sure chaps my hide.

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