The Q&A Archives: Rodents And Complot

Question: We are beginning a small vegetable garden in a suburban neighborhood of Allentown, PA. I would like to compost leftover fruits and vegetables. I thought it would be all right to make a small pile of the vegetables in the corner of the garden but my husband is worried about the rodents. We are a small family, and don't know if this will work since the amount of compost will not be extensive or a big pile. Do we have to worry? The gard is enclosed, but it is relatively close to the house. (approximately 15 yds.)

Answer: Compost is usually made by mixing together sources of nitrogen such as fresh vegetable peelings, freshly mown grass and other green materials or manure along with brown materials that are carbon-rich such as fallen leaves or stable bedding. These materials are then moistened and allowed to compost; they may be turned to speed up the process or they may be left as is over a period of time. In order for the process to work well, it takes about a three by three by three foot pile. A pile of plain vegetables, of any size, would be likely to rot and smell as well as attract all kinds of animals including rodents. A well made compost pile, in contrast, should heat up and not smell, and as a result, be less attractive to animals. Some gardeners prefer to use a compost bin or a wire enclosure to make it less attractive to animals or to contain ingredients while enough are being collected to build a working pile.

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