East Sacramento is now implementing a new state law that requires residents to separate organic materials in an effort to keep them from ending up in our landfills. Composting food scraps, food soiled paper, and yard trimmings can have great benefits, extending the capacity of our landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and turning organic materials into nutrient dense soil. Compost bins, however, can invite unwanted pests in the form of flies or maggots. They can be a real nuisance when opening the lid and being dive-bombed by these creatures.
Did you know that flies play a significant role in turning food waste into compost?
Flies and maggots help to break down the organic material into compost. This includes fruit flies. Much like earthworms, flies and their larvae feed on the organic materials, help aerate it, and turn it into a nutrient rich fertilizer. The downside is that they are prolific breeders and infestations can seem to happen overnight. Here are some helpful tips in managing your waste bins when flies have taken over.
Keep the lid on your waste bins: do not leave the bin open for any extended period of time. Make sure it is securely shut after each addition. This cuts off access to flies trying to make their way in.
Try to layer the organic material: adding some brown or green waste on top of the composite waste can stop flies from getting to the compost and prevent too many larvae from forming.
Keep bins away from doors: do not keep your bins too close to entry ways. Every time you open your door you risk flies coming into your home.
Do not skip weekly collections: make sure your bin is emptied weekly. Especially in the hotter months of the year, compost bins can get smelly and pest-ridden quickly. Ensuring your bin is emptied weekly can greatly reduce the chance of infestations.
Wash your bin periodically: because of the nature of composting, bins can get a build up of organic material left at the bottom or on the sides of your bin. If your bin gets too much build-up, you can simply clean it out using a garden house. Avoid using any household cleaners as they man contain harmful ingredients that can contaminate the compost.
Conclusion: Composting is essential for the environment. It enriches soil and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. In addition, a nutrient rich soil can encourage the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi and even suppress plant diseases and pests. Whether you are composting for the benefit of your own garden or collecting it for city pick up, we all want to do our part. Let us also do our part by making sure our bins are responsibly managed.
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