The contents of my compost pile or compost heap are dry and not composting. What am I doing wrong?
You have added too many browns to your pile and therefore there is not enough green waste for the micro organisms 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 and green garden waste, and the brown carbon producers, woody stems from the garden, paper and card from the home. To correct the mix you should add extra greens next time you turn the pile. If you get the balance of 50/50 right you should not need to add any other ingredients.
Revisit the section on hot compost greens to identify what else you can add to your bin.
The my compost is slimy, wet and smelly. What am I doing wrong?
You have added too many greens to your pile and therefore there is not enough brown waste to absorb the water and produce a balanced mix. 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 and green garden waste, and the brown carbon producers, woody stems from the garden, paper and card from the home. To correct the mix you should add more browns next time you turn the pile. If you get the balance of 50/50 right you should not need to add any other ingredients.
Revisit the section on hot compost browns to identify what else you can add to your bin.
Having built my compost pile, I went back and the pile size had halved. Where is it all gone?
The contents you put in the pile are still in there. 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 and the turning, otherwise the contents will go slimy, see above. However shrinkage of over 50% is natural and you should not be concerned.
I visited the compost area and found evidence of rats. How can I get rid of them?
Of course it is best not to get rats in the first place but it happens and there are a number of things you can do. Rats do not like change, sudden noises or live a vegetarian lifestyle, they do like dark warm places to live, preferably with a food source nearby. If you live in a town or city you are more lively to have rats than those that live in the country. This is mainly due to the abundance and easy access they have to food from fast food outlets, restaurant and supermaket waste, overflowing bins and an abundance of rubbish. Hot composting involves storing some of your ingredients prior to building the compost pile/compost heap. These storage places can make ideal homes for rats and mice amongst other things. Once the pile has been made, due to the heat and turning activity, nothing is likely to live within it.
First of all Don’t Panic, then try some of the following measures
- There will be an obvious roiute the rat is using to get to and from the bin. Place an obstacle on the path 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 area and bang the storage bays with a stick
- Make sure you adhere strictly to the Do Not Go There List for your pile or in the storage area
- Chop up whole pieces of fruit and veg, although not vegetarian rats like whole apples
- Make sure you are strict with the 50/50 mix
If these don't work then a more serious effort is required. Continue with the above and also;
- Move the storage bins to a different location
- Attach chicken wire to the base of your storage bins - rats can bite through most things but wire is a tough one
If all else fails seek help from your local pest control agency. Once you have eviced them, start again.
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 heat generated by hot composting should have dealt with them. The vast majority of weed seeds will have blown into your garden as weed seeds float in the air and can travel great distances to land, grow and reproduce in your garden. 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 hot compost but I don't have enough space. What can you suggest?
Making hot compost can take a fair amount of room as you need to allow for turning as well as raw ingredient storage. However compost tumblers are a good alternative for those with a smaller area available to dedicate to compost manufactur. If this is not an option for you then you should consider;
- Cold compost bins can be used for generating hot compost although the smaller volume will effect the amount of heat generated. Try using 2 cold compost bins, turning 1 into the other every 2 - 3 days.
- Keeping a wormery - wormeries are a good space saving solution however they will not generate a large quantitiy very quickly. See the section about making worm compost using a wormery for more information
- Bokashi compost - using bokashi is a good space saving solution however it is best used for composting kitchen waste rather than large volumes of garden waste. See the section on Bokashi for more information
- Sharing a neighbours garden - older residents may be happy for you to tend some of their garden
- Getting an allotment - contact your local or parish council for more information
If we haven't been able to answer your question her, please get in touch and we will do our best to help.