Want to compost, but afraid of the critters? We’ve got you covered with some easy tips for critter-proof composting, including bear proof composting. Not all composting is suitable for areas with bears. This post will walk you through the steps you need to know for best practices for composting in bear country as well as the best “nearly” bear proof compost bins on the market.
Bear proof composting is needed in Naples, FL
Most people probably don’t think of Naples, FL, the home of Naples Compost, as bear country. While we may be more well known for our sunshine and beaches, we have a good amount of black bears too. It’s the most common reason why people who want to compost in Naples, don’t. Our bears don’t just roam out in the “country” areas of Naples. The bears are so comfortable around humans that they even frequent apartment buildings and gated communities.
It’s common knowledge that a hungry bear will easily go after any and all food it can find. Put a big pile of food waste out in your backyard and you’re practically inviting a bear to dinner. After all, bears need to eat 20,000 calories a day to prepare for hibernation!
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What can you do to make your compost bear proof?
Technically speaking, there is no such thing as bear proof composting. Instead, there are a few tips you can follow that can deter bears.
Bear proof composting isn’t difficult. In fact, if you compost using these tips to make your compost bear proof, you’ll have the added benefit of making better (and less stinkier) compost.
There are two major tips you need to know to keep your backyard compost from getting too stinky where it will attract bears. If your compost is super stinky, it will definitely attract a bear. Keep your compost bear proof by doing this:
1. Increase your brown material
Too often people think that composting is a smelly and gross procedure. When done right, your backyard compost won’t smell bad at all. If your backyard compost bin smells bad, then you need to add less green material or more brown material. We prefer a ratio of 1:2 to keep our backyard smelling like dirt instead of food.
- Browns include: dead leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust and low-quality household paper products that are shredded or cut up, like tissue paper, egg cartons, paper towels, junk mail, newspaper, paper bags, and cardboard rolls.
- Greens include: kitchen scraps, vegetables, and fruits.
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Ideally, you should add a layer of browns every single time you add food. Running low on browns? Start opting for paper bags at the grocery store when you forget your reusable bags (we’ve all been there). Then place those near your trash bags to use in a pinch when you empty your countertop compost bin.
2. Keep compost properly aerated
Food breaks down in the presence of oxygen. Unless you are going super fancy and doing bokashi composting, you must keep your backyard compost exposed to air. This will keep the food from undergoing anaerobic decomposition which smells really disgusting.
If you don’t rotate your outdoor compost enough, it will create pockets of food that start to break down without oxygen. This will not smell good. It will also attract bears.
If all you have is a pile, you can use a pitchfork or shovel to mix up your compost. Then cover it with a layer of browns again.
While a pile can work well, we suggest using a bear proof compost tumbler like the one below.
Nearly bear proof compost bins
Update: we have not had any bear problems with these bins in Naples, however we have been notified that a bear in Vermont did get into one of these compost bins! These tips don’t guarantee that you won’t have bears. Instead, these tips are the best we have for deterring bears.
Nearly bear proof compost tumblers aren’t only great for keeping bears out of your compost, they are amazing for all critter-free composting. Sure, you’ll still find worms and bugs, but you won’t find rats, mice, squirrels or any other critters raiding your compost for dinner.
These bins rotate easily which keeps the food waste completely aerated. This is by far the best and easiest way to get started with backyard composting- bears or no bears.
Here at Naples Compost, we love compost tumblers for more than keeping bears away. The black material heats up fast, allowing food scraps to be turned into soil in as little as two weeks. The Compost Wizard Duel has two compartments to allow you to use one and give it a rest for two weeks while putting food scraps into the second compartment.
Commonly asked questions about bear proof composting
Are compost tumblers completely bear proof?
No. The bins are so light that if you don’t have enough food in it, a bear can pick it up.
However, the top is screwed on so the bear can’t open it. If you keep the bin from getting stinky, then you won’t attract the bear in the first place. Using this kind of bin properly keeps the food from stinking anyway.
Are there other methods of bear proof composting?
Absolutely! We suggest this method because it works well for the black bears here in Naples, FL. We personally have had bears around these tumblers with no problems from bears.
We’ve done research on composting in areas where bears are more aggressive, and we’ve found two great alternatives:
- Bury your food waste the old fashioned way.
- Make a compost bin out of stone. You can learn more about a man in Canada who has had success with his stone based compost container.