i teach composting and often get questions about keeping rats out of compost piles. i’d had the good fortune of not having too many problems with rats in the past, and would often smugly answer that all one needed to do was to bury food waste deeply in the pile and you were ok.
in this last year the rats started finding our compost pile at the old house, and it turned into a rat buffet. despite putting scrapes deep in the pile, despite not using any post consumer food waste, those rats would just bury though and rip it open. coming home at night, when they were most active, i could see at least a half dozen, and i can only assume more were lurking about where i couldn’t see them.
i’m determined not to let the situation arise again in this house hold, but still feel the need to compost kitchen scrapes. good friends recommended using trashcans sunk in the ground for a rat resistant kitchen scrap composting solution.
first thing that needed to be done was to dig a hole.
the soil in this photo makes it look like i’m dealing with better quality soil than i think we are. while it’s not bad, this spot appears to have been a dumping spot for the household, and at least a good portion of the darkness in the soil is from old coal and other junk. i pulled out all sorts of pottery etc. i also was able to find the old slab of what i assume to be the garage. i didn’t explore too far as to how big it is, but at some point i may find my self with a sledge breaking up concrete.
with the hole dug, i just needed a trash can. i’d been toting this trash can around for years, it had mainly been used for sanitizing beer bottles for home brew. since i haven’t been brewing too much, the current needs out weighed the possible needs. with a large drill bit and cordless drill, in a minute or two it was full of holes, to allow excess moisture out and microbes in.
sunk into the ground, and then covered with a lid it doesn’t look too bad. certainly less unsightly than a bunch of rats chowing down, and it costs a lot less than some of the those fancy compost machines that you can buy. i plan to use this one mostly for food scrapes, throwing in some leaves and straw to absorb liquid and balance carbon and perhaps some worms. i’ll still use am open pile for other organic matter that’s not so tempting to the rats. once this can is filled up, i’ll dig another hole and sink another trash can next to this one.
while i fill up the other can the first one can do it’s decomposing thing, and when both cans are filled up, i’m thinking can number one will be finished with the decomposition process and can be spread on the garden.