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Composting FAQ

Stump Grinding operations create lots of wood chip that is compostable. These Frequently asked Questions will allow you to keep a productive compost heap:

Q. Why does my compost bin stink.
A. You have put too much green waste without sufficient brown waste to soak up excessive moisture and to also create air spaces that
will oxygenate within the heap. Your heap is putrefying rather than composting. Composting is odour free with a 50/50 mixture of
green and brown waste. Wood chip (arisings) generated from tree stump grinding is an ideal brown additive to green waste. The
quick remedy is to empty your bin and refile by layering with brown materials.

Q. Why do compost heaps heat up
A. A well oxygenated heap will oxidise organic material. This process liberates carbon dioxide, water and heat. Temperatures in
commercial heaps can reach 80 C.

Q. Are composting activators necessary.
A. No. Activators usually contain nitrogen and/or microbes. Both are naturally present.

Q. Will a compost bin attract slugs and snails to my garden
A. Slugs, snails, worms, wood lice, beetles, centipedes, nematodes, ants, are all part of the composting process. A composting bin is
an ideal habitat for these creatures. With an exception for ants, they have everything they need within your bin and should not
invade your garden. You can rid ants nesting in your bin by watering the heap and frequently turning it over however keeping a
compost bin is not the reason you may also have ants in your garden.

Q. Why do I get tiny flies in my composting bin
A. These are harmless fruit flies very common in warm weather. Covering the heap surface with brown waste or shredded newspaper
should reduce their buildup.

Q. How much time to make compost
A. 6-18 months depending on what materials you have added, bin location e.g. in the sun or shade, and the season it was started
e.g. hot or cold

Q. Mowed grass clippings are the mainstay of my bin but it just turns into a slimy mess.
A. Again, that is because no air can get within the grass heap. Mix in cut up cardboard, wood chip, or other brown materials 50/50
with grass clippings.

Q. Can I use a plastic dust bin for my compost
A. Only if you first cut large drainage holes in its bottom. Otherwise the liquid build up will not allow the heap to oxygenate and
again it will putrefy and stink.

Q. Will my compost bin attract rats
A. You may have heard the truism “you are never more than six feet away from a rat” They are everywhere out of sight. To discourage
rats do not place a compost bin near a wall or fence line which are likely rat runs, and never add cooked or raw meat or fish
products to your bin.

Q. What health and safety precautions need to be taken when making and using compost.
A. Normal good hygiene measures to be taken when gardening:
. Cover cuts and grazes and wear gloves
. Update tetanus vaccinations
. Thoroughly wash hands after handling compost
. Do not add feces from pet carnivores to your compost bin

Q. What additional precautions should be taken
A. A main concern is to prevent inhalation of bio-aerosols containing fungal spores, microorganisms, bacteria that are
released into the air when you turn over, or empty a compost bin. A dust mask should be worn when handling compost.

Mike Lish
Mike Lish
An electro-mechanical technician and specialist in tree stump grinding over the last 17 years.

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