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Do compost bins attract rats?

There are many reasons why rats may already be in your garden, for instance if you live near water, farm land/open countryside or derelict buildings. Rats and other animals may seek shelter and food and can be attracted to excess food put out for birds. It is recommended that you do not put cooked food and meat waste in your bin as the smell of this decaying matter can attract rats. A rat is only likely to seek out a compost bin if incorrect items have been composted, making the bin a source of food as well as shelter. The more the bin is used, the less likely you are to have a problem. Some compost bins come with a perforated base to deter rodents, for example you can buy a base to fit the bins sold through the Council at www.evengreener.com. Alternatively you can try attaching a layer of metal mesh to the base of the bin.

There are lots of small black flies in my bin

These are not a problem, but if you find them unpleasant there are things you can do to prevent and get rid of them. These are probably fruit flies, so make sure your organic waste is always kept covered in the home, and for instance use a lidded kitchen caddy for your waste. Once in your compost bin you can get rid of them by leaving the lid off for a few days, this allows predators to get in. Covering in an inch thick layer of soil also stops the hatching flies escape.

Why does my bin smell?

Too much moisture and not enough air, try stirring the mixture to aerate it and add more browns like cardboard tubes or scrunched up paper to create more air pockets.

Nothing is happening, what am I doing wrong?

Are you adding a balanced mixture of greens and browns? see  The mixture may be too dry, it should be damp. Larger twigs and wood will take longer to break down and remember it does take approximately a year to become compost. The correct items will all compost eventually, if you haven’t quite got the balance right it will just take a bit longer than usual. You can always add in a bit of someone else’s compost or just soil to give things a boost, or you can buy accelerators/activators from garden centres. One of the best natural sources of the latter is urine! Diluted 1:4 parts with water.

Page updated on: 03/05/2016

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