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May 23, 2014 05:23 PM

Composting question

I've been looking for a compost pail/bucket and most all of them have ventilation holes. From what I gather, the purpose is to keep the scraps from turning mushy. I am concerned about fruit flies and I wonder why does it matter if the scraps turn mushy. What am I missing?

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    1. re: c oliver

      Not to seem ungrateful for your response, but that one does have holes. lol.

      1. re: MrsJonesey

        Oh, sheesh, you're right :) But IIRC under those holes is a plastic layer. I can't compost due to not warm enough summers and bears :) so I've only seen this in others homes.

          1. re: MrsJonesey

            That is SO SO interesting. Unfortunately I don't have ANY extra space inside the house but I bet others will jump all over this.

    2. One of the reasons you should be concerned about your compost going mushy is that moist, rotting organic materials will attract fungus gnats, fruit flies, bluebottle flies, and all sorts of other vermin that will happily infest your compost heap.

      That's why you turn your compost on a regular basis, and add a bit of dry straw or shredded newspaper to the mix if it's going mushy. And yes, the ventilation holes in the container are meant to help keep your compost pile from going anaerobic (it will stink like rotten eggs).

      That said, fungus gnats generally tend to be the most damaging of the bunch (excluding fruit flies and citrus trees).

      If you have a fungus gnat infestation in your compost pile, and if you use that compost to fertilize your garden, the fungus gnat larvae infesting the compost will damage the roots of your plants and will also spread diseases throughout your garden.

      However no matter what you do there will always be little buzzing critters zipping around your compost pile.

      10 Replies
      1. re: deet13

        I'm under the impression that OP is looking for something to have in the kitchen prior to going in the pile.

        1. re: c oliver

          Ahh, my mistake.

          We use a 5 gallon bucket lined with paper bags. I just toss out the bag on a nightly basis...

          1. re: deet13

            Wow. Every night? Are you a vegetarian??? :)

            I'm envious of those of you who can compost.

            1. re: c oliver

              Yup, I can fill a 5 gallon bucket with compostable materials per night.

              That's how I stay in fighting trim. ;)

              1. re: deet13

                Could you give examples of what you compost? I have a feeling you may exceed the average :)

                1. re: deet13

                  Wow! I thought I had a lot of scraps!

            2. re: deet13

              That makes sense. I am doing the Bokashi method so I wonder if it matters. Have only just started. If you're not familiar with it, there are 3 stages, I guess you could say, ending with burying the mixture of scraps and bokashi bran in soil where the final composting happens very rapidly, as little as 2 weeks during warm weather.

              How do you tell fungus gnats and fruit flies apart? Every year we have swarms of gnats hovering throughout the property. One year I was diagnosed with pink eye after one got into my eye. Now, I didn't think it was pink eye but the same medication prescribed for pink eye cured it. If they are fungus gnats, pinkeye would seem more plausible. Have recently read that nematodes might help with the gnats. Do you know anything about that?

              1. re: MrsJonesey

                You know, the Bokashi method sounds pretty interesting. I'm going to read up more on it. This looks like a good alternative for people who don't have a lot of property space available.

                As for telling the difference between fruit flies and gnats, fungus gnats are smaller than most fruit flies. Also if you look at them under a magnifying glass, gnats look like a tiny mosquito.

                Using nematodes; they work, but it takes time and repeated treatments for a self-sustaining colony to become established in your compost pile. You can buy nematodes on Amazon or at Home Depot. But in the long run, it's cheaper and less of a hassle just to turn the pile.

                If worst comes to worst, I suggest mixing wet mosquito bits into your compost a few times a week.


                1. re: deet13

                  Thanks. I really need to look into this further. I just thought of the gnats as a major nuisance, not realizing how much damage they can do to plants. I don't have a compost pile. I tried it a few years ago and failed miserably.

            3. I bokashi with a food grade 5 gallon bucket With a tight fitting lid. I got it at Lowes. I keep the bokashi bran in another one and have a third so I can rotate when the first is full and in the fermenting stage. If you go with a 5 gallon bucket get a bucket wrench from the paint department to spare your nails.

              6 Replies
              1. re: weezieduzzit

                The bucket wrench is very clever! I bought one of the ready-made Bokashi buckets and have made another out of a kitty litter bucket, so it's not an issue for me. I need a third one. How long have you been at it?

                1. re: MrsJonesey

                  I've been doing Bokashi since the beginning of the year. I was trying to start a compost pile outside but even in the middle of the city we have too much wildlife to accumulate enough before it's become raccoons, skunks and possoms midnight snack. Bokashi seemed like the best alternative for us and it's worked out great- it's SO FAST! I make my own bokashi bran with the whey from the kefir I make.

                  I also have a compost pile outside now of non-food items (I'm working on a 3 compartment bin this weekend made of pallets, nothing fancy,) and will add the fermented bokashi to it to help speed it up when I don't need it immediately for planting.

                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    I'm impressed that you make your own bran. Will consider doing it myself if I am successful with the composting. Good luck with your bin.

                    Now I have to look into kefir. lol.

                    1. re: MrsJonesey

                      Traditionally it's done with water from washing rice- Google for instructions. You can also use shredded newspaper instead of bran. Lots of people do it completely expense free.

                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                        I have a couple sites bookmarked to read through. Expense free would be great. Thanks!

                    2. re: weezieduzzit

                      Dug up my first bucketful today. Wow! Everything composted except for the paper and a bit of avocado peel. Even the lemon peels were gone. I couldn't easily tell the difference from the soil to the compost though.

                2. I got this one last year and have been very happy with it:
                  It does have holes at the top, but there is a thick filter within the top that prevents odors from coming out and fruit flies from going in. I haven't had any fruit fly problems with it at all.

                  1 Reply
                  1. We use an old school, three quart enameled pot. Fill it up, walk it out to the pile.