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The contents of my compost bin are dry and not composting. What am I doing wrong?

You have deviated from the 50/50 green/brown mix and added too many browns to your bin. Therefore there is not enough green waste for the micro organisms in your bin to feed on. The composting process will work well if there is an equal balance of the two main components. The green nitrogen producers, made up of fruit and vegetable peelings, green garden waste etc, and the brown carbon producers, woody stems from the garden, paper and card etc. To correct the mix you should empty the bin contents then refill with layers of green between some of the brown material. If you get the balance of 50/50 right you should not need to add any other ingredients.

Revisit the section on cold compost greens to identify what else you can add to your bin.

 

The contents of my compost bin are slimy, wet and smelly. What am I doing wrong?

You have deviated from the 50/50 green/brown mix and added too many greens to your bin. If there is not enough brown waste to absorb the water, keep the mixture airated and produce a balanced mix the green elements start to decompose anaerobically. The composting process will only work well if there is an equal balance of the two main components. The green nitrogen producers, made up of fruit and vegetable peelings, green garden waste etc, and the brown carbon producers, woody stems from the garden, paper and card etc. To correct the mix you should empty the bin contents then refill with layers of brown between some of the green material. If you get the balance of 50/50 right you should not need to add any other ingredients.

Revisit the section on cold compost browns to identify what else you can add to your bin to get the balance right.

 

Having filled my bin, when I go back the contents appear to have halved. Where is it all going?

The contents you have added are still in the bin. They have compacted as the green matter wilts and breaks down. It is essential that there is plenty of air provided by the browns in your mix otherwise the contents will go slimy, see above. However shrinkage of over 50% is natural and you should not be concerned.

 

I looked in the compost bin and found a rat. How can I get rid of it?

Rats like dark warm places to live, preferably with a food source nearby. It is best not to get rats in the first place so always;

  • Strictly avoid adding any of the items on the "Do not go there" list to your cold compost bin
  • Make sure you are strict with the 50/50 mix

Rats do not like change, sudden noises or live a vegan lifestyle. but if you get rats there are a number of things you can do. First of all Don't Panic! Then try some of the following measures;

  • There will be an obvious route the rat is using to get to and from the bin. Place an obstacle on the path, move and replace it every few days.
  • Put flower pots around the compost area and move them regularly
  • Make plenty of noise as you approach the bin and bang the bin with a stick
  • Make sure you do not put any meat/fish/dairy products in your bin
  • Chop up whole pieces of fruit and veg, although not vegetarian rats like whole apples

If these don't work then a more serious effort is required. Continue with the above and also

  • move the bin to a different location
  • attach chicken wire to the base of your bin - rats can chew through most things but wire is a tough one

If all else fails seek help from your local pest control agency.

 

My garden is full of weeds and I am sure they are coming from my compost. What can I do to stop it?

Whilst there will be some seeds in your compost the vast majority will have blown into your garden. Weed seeds float in the air and travel great distances to land in your garden, grow and reproduce. If you are really concerned that your compost is home to weed seeds and little else, you can avoid putting the seeds in there by pulling the weeds before they get to the seed stage. Remember most weeds are flowers in the wrong place.

 

I want to make compost but I don't have enought space. What can you suggest?

Not all composting methodologies need to take up loads of room. If you have 1 meter square or less try one of the following approaches

 

If you have any more questions, please ask me.

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