Forum home Tools and techniques

Rat-free composting?

I would love to make compost, but we back onto farm land and every so often there is a population explosion of rats, so the environmental health people advised no compost heaps and no bird feeders all the way along our row of houses.   Is there any way of composting that would get round this problem?


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,882
    A wormery perhaps?
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Or one of the black plastic Daleks - if you purchase one with a base and make sure you always keep the little "door" at the front closed, you may well get around the rat issue.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,993
    edited August 2021
    There are loads of rats near me as I live on the edge of a scraggy park. I use regular black plastic dustbins with clip lips and I drill holes in the base. The lighter bins are easier to lift. I put small pieces of waste in the bins - woodchip, paper, kitchen waste, dead heads etc, rather than hedging material etc. Having a small garden, a few black bins are enough to cope with what I have.

    If you have grass, you could do just grass and woodchip (chipped hedging) - this makes fine compost for mulching, without the attraction of ex-veg. @Hostafan1 uses dumpy bags for this, I believe.

    There is the idea out there that compost bins have to open to the ground so that microbes and animals can get in to do the work of compostion. No doubt open bins might have higher life levels, and can offer a home to toads, slow worms, hedgehogs etc but I have found my sealed bins to be heaving with life (and poo, which is where the nutrients come from), fungi, worms, every manner of invertebrate, beloved of ants, woodlice, springtails... 

    There is also a belief that composting needs to be open to the air - with lots of air holes, or mesh and not have solid sides. I personally haven't found this to be true at all. Solid bins hold in heat and see to give a faster turn around (at least on my small level of composting). I keep an eye on whether contents are geting too wet or too dry. Once a season I tip the full contents from one bin to other and that seems to be enough to aerate the lot. I add scrunched cardboard, egg boxes and such things to create air pockets in the mix so it doesn't compact too much. Sometimes some bits need another cycle to rot down completely.

    In my position I probably wouldn't have chosen to compost if I could guarantee my neighbours that I wouldn't be bringing more rodents into the area - so this is one solution.

    The bins need to have the drainage holes unclogged every time you empty them at the end of a cycle. It's good to check regularly if there are any gnawing marks or breaks. With a dustbin, it's fairly easy to see if anything has had a go. Metal dustbins / grain stores also work fine - easy to check for gnawing marks there too.

  • B3B3 Posts: 27,340
    I don't compost any cooked food. 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,993
    edited August 2021
    Rats love vegetables too, but no cooked food, dairy or meats probably helps. (Yes, I have a Bruce Crush).

  • B3 said:
    I don't compost any cooked food. 
    Neither do I - just asking for trouble - even if you never see them, rats are never far away and just waiting for a chance to "dine out "  ;)
  • B3B3 Posts: 27,340
    Something nibbled discarded cucumbers so I don't put them on either.
    Buying half cucumbers helps too😉
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,840
    On my allotment I have four dalek bins for garden waste and two for kitchen waste, over the winter months I had noticed that the kitchen waste was going down faster than I was adding it so I came to the conclusion that all I was doing was feeding the rat population, after a lot of head scratching wondering how I could stop the rats emptying the bins I realised that I had a water butt which had a crack around the tap area which couldn't be fixed so I drilled some holes in the bottom and now add my kitchen waste to that, problem solved rats go hungry and I have noticed that the compost is now full of fat worms something that never happened when Mr and Mrs Rat had free rein.
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,995
    I do the same as @Fire, using dustbins to compost.  You can add a shovel of garden dirt once in a while, if you feel the need to add microbes.  Mine are just for kitchen waste, and lining the kitchen compost container with newspaper usually makes for a good mix of browns and greens.  I put some cooked food in the compost, whatever the dog won't eat and isn't a meat or bones.  Clam shells, edamame pods, cooked peas found in the back of the fridge, corn cobs, etc.  

    You can strap down the lid with a bungee cord and roll them around on their sides to mix up the compost, if you want.  In the winter I drag them right up next to the house to make an easier job of dumping the kitchen compost.  

    My garden compost is used as mulch or pile composted behind the rhubarb plants.  Weedy seedy things are pile composted in a wild area of my garden, providing habitat to bugs and such.  
    Utah, USA.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,993
    I do the same - adding a bit of garden soil to each newly emptied bin. Also a bit of manure, if I have it and some old, fully broken down homemade compost - this all ups the fungi and microbe levels. I think of it like sour dough starter. Peeing on it will help too.
Sign In or Register to comment.