My Composting Adventure ~ Total Disclosure

Okay, so I still love my compost bin and I am still enjoying not-drippy garbageHowever, upon returning from our vacation we found that an animal (most likely a raccoon) had overturned the compost bin and foraged the contents.  It was easy enough to just put the bin right back into place.  Easy because the bin is so light – and although it has a closed top, it has an open bottom… making it very easy for a raccoon to tip over.

I had realized this was probably a flaw when I first put it together.

Lucky for me, Mat had just built a Racoon proof bin for our garbage cans.  I could probably sneak-in my compost bin and it will be safe and sound in there.  Sooo, I’m going to try to make this one work.  But, if you are (still) thinking of your first compost bin, (and Mat hasn’t made you a Raccoon-proof box) I would suggest a nice heavy, homemade bin or a totally enclosed compost tumbler.

Nice, heavy homemade wooden compost bins

If you are handy (or know someone that is), there are a bunch of different styles of homemade wooden compost bins.  Some that can even be made from leftover wooden pallets.  This huge DIY compost bin was featured in the blog Apartment Therapy:

042711-compost1_rect540

Totally enclosed drum-style compost bin

This kind is a good choice, not only because of it’s total-enclosededness (is that a word?) but because you can easily tumble the contents.   This one I found on Amazon.com, it is a little pricey but I think you could find one of this style for cheaper:

Did I Mention the Yellow Jackets?

Okay, so my Facebook friends heard me complaining about this – and so in the interest of full disclosure our compost pile is enjoyed by yellow jackets during the sunny hours of the day.  In order to not get stung, I just dump in fresh compost when it is starting to get dark or first thing in the morning when the yellowjackets are away.  In order to discourage them from building a nest in dry compost, I keep the pile wet by watering it once in awhile.

Please share your experience with me – do you compost?  What kinds of things have you done to discourage pests?  What style of compost bin do you have?  Oh, and if you were thinking of composting did this post push you off the fence onto the ‘not having a compost bin’ side?  🙂

Advertisements

How to Rid a Kitchen of Flour Moths Naturally

I guess I have been lucky because I’ve been living in New England for 12 years and this is the first year that I have been plagued with flour moths.  I had noticed that many New Englanders put unusual things in storage containers such as the contents of a box of cereal.  I always thought… so why would you do that if there is a perfectly good box and bag that the cereal already comes in?

Why?  Because of these guys:

But, where to get a bunch of containers ASAP?

Well, it turns out I didn’t need a bunch of containers ASAP because I had to throw most of my dry goods away pronto.  Bag after bag of rice, nuts, beans were infested with their little tiny eggs and maggot-looking larva.  The larva can actually eat right through an unopened plastic bag – and they can eat right through a cardboard (think oatmeal) box or cylinder.

Okay, what’s grosser than gross?  Before I realized that these foods were infested, I’m sure I ate some of those eggs mixed in with powdered sugar or flour.    Uhg… extra lean protein I suppose.

It was time to consult with Google, who directed me to the following resources:

Wikipedia: Indian Meal Moth

Colorado State Extention

What to Throw Away

Anything that wasn’t in a glass, metal or hard plastic container was dumped into my beautiful compost bin guerilla style.  It was really gross when I discovered a really infested bag of something.  It was also tough to let go of that much food, even though it was infested.  I think it was a win-win situation though; I get them immediately out of my house and they get to live in a giant bin of food.

So, the next thing to do was to vacuum out the cabinet, making sure to get all of the eggs that were expertly crammed into the corners and along the edges.  Also, I had to vacuum up two gross cocoons that had appeared on the ceiling.

Are you still reading?  Hmm – okay cool, I’ll go on…

Moth Proof Containers are the Only Ones Left Standing

Cleaning out the Cabinet

Finally, I sprayed the whole cabinet down with my trusty vinegar and water spray to kill any missed eggs.  Some websites recommend spraying bleach cleaner but that all you need to do the job is vinegar.

Good.

Eggs gone – check

Access to food gone – check

Keeping them Gone Long-term

So, to knock them out for good; anytime I bring home something in a plastic bag or box the contents will need to go directly into a tightly sealed storage container.  Effectively removing Indian Flour Moth larva supply of food and stopping their lifecycle dead in its tracks.  You can buy pesticides to spray in the corners and traps for the adult male moths but this should do the trick without any of that nicely.

About gaining containers, I did get a bunch of containers from Mat’s grandma’s yard sale pile.  Also, my Hannaford Brand Organic coffee tins provide a slow but steady stream of medium sized containers.  I know I could go out and buy a bunch and I probably will need to buy some however I would rather try and find things used or reuse stuff.