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Visitors to my compost bin

Hi, I am a newbie at making compost and would love some advice!

During the winter I installed a wooden compost bin, one that has a lid on it and a black sleeve inside to keep the heat in, as in the below picture (the sleeve is shown on the right). The lid isn't airtight or anything, so there are gaps everywhere. 



As I started during winter, I have mostly just been using the bin to collect kitchen scraps, occasionally topped up with bits of cardboard and paper. There isn't an awful lot in there yet, but I was hoping to use it for grass cuttings soon as well. 

Anyway, since I started using it I have had a lot of visitors to my bin. During winter it seemed to be a refuge for lots and lots of white flies and quite a few house flies. Recently it seems to be mostly house flies that are in it (loads of them, not fun to have them fly in your face when you open the lid!). And then today when I was about to turn the compost, I was greeted by a little mouse, so instantly dropped the lid haha.  :D

Obviously I think I am doing something wrong, as it is fine to have some visitors, but a swarm of flies and a mouse seem a bit too much!  :#

What should I be doing to make the bin less attractive to these critters? Will it help once I start adding grass cuttings? Because at the moment it has mostly just been kitchen scraps and cardboard/paper I'm afraid. Anything else I can start adding?

Thanks!
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Posts

  • B3B3 Posts: 21,535
    I never put anything cooked in the compost. I only use vegetable peelings and forgotten veg 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    The problem is probably that you have been only adding food waste the fly's are attracted to this and the warmth then lay eggs they hatch and so the cycle continues once you start adding garden waste I think you will find they will disappear.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 19,949
    Don’t worry about the mouse, keep turning the compost, they don’t like disturbance so will nest elsewhere.
    Do you leave the lids open so the rain can get to water your compost, Ive never had a lid on a compost bin. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • NiniSNiniS Posts: 18
    B3 said:
    I never put anything cooked in the compost. I only use vegetable peelings and forgotten veg 
    I don't think I've got anything cooked in there, mostly just things like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, egg shells... We don't usually have leftovers from cooked food so it's mostly vegetable/fruit cuttings that will go in there. 

    The problem is probably that you have been only adding food waste the fly's are attracted to this and the warmth then lay eggs they hatch and so the cycle continues once you start adding garden waste I think you will find they will disappear.
    Yeah, I did try adding the cardboard to offset the food waste, but I never had a huge amount of it to cover the food. And I had no garden waste during winter of course.
    I've seen people mention things like adding soil, would that be an option? Though then I wonder where people keep getting soil from!  :D

    Lyn said:
    Don’t worry about the mouse, keep turning the compost, they don’t like disturbance so will nest elsewhere.
    Do you leave the lids open so the rain can get to water your compost, Ive never had a lid on a compost bin. 
    To be honest I was worried I would hurt the mouse as I use a fork to turn the compost! I don't want it in my bin but I also don't want to kill the poor creature haha. 
    The lid isn't very tight (which is how all these creatures get in), so the rain can still get to the compost. It is very damp/wet at the moment actually. 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,874
    Through the winter I only have kitchen waste, and it is more of a wormery. In Spring, when we start cutting the grass, it all gets mixed up and heats up like a proper compost bin.  I someetimes get nesting voles in the third bin that I use for maturing compost.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • It may be that as it is enclosed, the odd fly squeezes in to lay eggs, but when the eggs hatch, the new flies can't get out, which is why they all swarm at you when you open the lid. I get this with fruit flies in a plastic compost bin, so sometimes I leave the lid off to let them disperse (after closing the nearby windows of the house!)  
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,174
    With cardboard/paper it's good to go small - loo rolls, egg boxes, newspaper or shredded cardboard. Large swathes won't break down so fast.  Sawdust on top of newly added garden waste can be good for keeping the flies down. I'm surprised about the house flies. I've never had any. I suspect that once you are adding the grass, things will settle down.

    I, too, don't add fats, dairy, pet waste or cooked food. (Nor teabags). Adding some soil from your garden is great, to add microbes from your own earth. Also, old horse manure if you happen to encounter any.

    Aim for 50% green stuff (new grass, kitchen waste, clippings, flower heads etc) and 50% brown stuff (paper, shredded leaves, sawdust, loo rolls, hay). For beginners it can feel odd to add so much brown but the chemistry works and it will stop everything getting too wet, sloppy and smelly. You'll need a whack of brown to balance all the grass when you start adding. I keep large bags of shredded paper by my bins and my friends give me all theirs.

    Don't worry about the airtight / lid aspect. You can do good composting in everything from a dustbin with a lid, to a heap on its own in a field. Creepy crawlies: worms, fruit flies, wood lice, every one is great for turning stuff into soil. They eat and they poo and it all turns to gold. Fungus, moulds, gunge, it's all perfect for compost.

    I hope that's helpful. Good luck.
  • BijdezeeBijdezee BPosts: 1,484
    edited April 2019
    I think fruit flies are normal in compost bins but not house flies. It's also common for mice to get in there. 

    As for the cardboard, you can buy small bags of straw or hay in the pet department, this helps composting process  and a little goes a long way. Egg boxes too, not plastic of corse. Soak them, remove the label (comes off easy with soaking) and tear them up a bit. 
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    @NiniS   I'm lucky and have an endless supply of horse manure so add a few forkfuls and turn this into the heap every month or so, if you can lay your hands on some would help or any old compost, shredded paper can all go in.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • NiniSNiniS Posts: 18
    Thanks for the suggestions everyone!
    I've mowed the lawn today and added the cuttings to the bin (which is filling up quickly as we have a fairly big lawn!), so hopefully this will help. I might also look into getting a bag of sawdust or something for my "browns". :smile:
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