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How to Deter Pests from Digging into Your Compost Pile

homemade compost barrellBecause it produces free fertilizer while reducing the amount of waste sent to local landfills, backyard composting has become a popular way to “go green” in western cities such as Portland and Eugene. Pest control problems can pop up, however, whenever human food is left out in the open. Unprotected compost piles may attract vermin such as rats, raccoons and opossums, as many a Portland pest control company can attest. Fortunately, you can follow the Integrated Pest Management techniques listed below to prevent pests from shuffling through your compost pile for food.

1. Keep all dairy and meat products out of your compost pile.

When done on a very large scale, composting can successfully break down fats, bones and dairy products without attracting vermin. City-wide composting farms, for instance, maintain very “hot” composting piles that can handle these materials. However, your backyard compost pile will never be large enough to break down meat and dairy products. For residents across Oregon, from Enterprise to Eugene, pest control for your compost pile begins with keeping meat, fat, bones, fish and dairy products out. In case you need extra motivation to follow this tip, keep in mind that meat-laden backyard compost piles make a great home for maggots.

2. Use a covered compost container.

Tumblers are the cream of the compost container crop, so to speak. They are built to keep your compost completely contained and out of the reach of vermin, and they also include a handle to help you periodically mix your compost. (This is a vital habit to get into for producing healthy fertilizer.) Stationary compost containers can also effectively prevent pests from digging into your compost pile. There are plenty of places to buy compost bins in Oregon cities, including Portland. Pest control company owners recommend that you invest in an elevated, contained compost bin to deter pests.

3. Open compost piles: Bury kitchen scraps.

If you must have an open compost pile, you can reduce pests’ attraction to it by burying new kitchen scraps deep in the pile. Mix fresh vegetable and fruit scraps with soil or wood ashes, and bury them at least eight inches deep in your compost pile. Integrated Pest Management is all about anticipating pests’ behavior; by burying fresh scraps, you can prevent animals from detecting them in the first place.

4. Compost indoors.

Live in an apartment in Portland or Eugene? Pest control professionals recommend worm bins as a good alternative to outdoor composting. Because worm bins are kept indoors under a sink or in the garage, they attract far fewer critters. Homeowners with lingering compost pest control issues may also choose to switch to indoor composting systems.

[ photo by: greengardenvienna ]

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