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How can I save my compost

Almost a year ago, I started off a 220 litre black plastic compost bin, which has been topped up weekly with the usual peelings and spoilt veg, all chopped finely and regularly turned and mixed in.
However, on closer inspection of the opening which allows me to remove compost from near the the base, I have become aware of two problems:
The first is that there are noticeably large pieces of non degraded material which seem not to have altered since they were added near the start of the project.
The second is that the whole mix seems to be completely infested with slugs of all shapes and sizes, which makes me wary of contamination by slugs and their eggs in any way I choose to use the mixture.

Is there anything that I could add to the compost bin to kill off the slugs and their eggs, or have I simply been unlucky, and should I discard the whole drum which has taken a year to progress this far?

Any advice will be greatfully received.

Yours sincerely
Phil Morris



I've never had a great deal of luck with composting -- a bit like baking a cake, people who are good at it don't really understand how the rest of us manage to mess it up.

However I do have *theoretical* answers to your questions:

For the first question -- either these are materials that just aren't suitable for composting, or the pieces are too large, too dry, too wet or ... well, all sorts of possibilities.

As for the slugs -- the compost should be hot enough to kill them. The rotting process should bring the middle of the heap to around 60 degrees celcius. It might be that your heap isn't really composting at the moment, and needs rescuing. Try insulating it, turn it to make sure it has plenty of oxygen, and hope that the warmer weather helps. repeats the same advice you'll find everywhere else but is no less valid for that.

18 Mar, 2007


PS when I say the heat should kill slugs -- it should also kill their eggs, weed seeds etc.

If you want to grow seedlings, you might want 100% sterile compost in smallish quantities. I've heard that blasting compost in the microwave is effective.

18 Mar, 2007


I think the key to composting is mixing the compost pile often. The encourages the decomposition process. The decomposition is what creates the heat that will kill the slugs, etc. You can even see steam rise on cool mornings. Check out the website that Ukslim suggested, it is a good one!

21 Mar, 2007


Agree with susans, turning it is a little messy but worth it, also if it gets full of little flys you need to add strips of paper, the free newspaper is good ofr this, cut into strips 1-2 inches wide, also add the junk mail, but not shinny stuff.

7 May, 2007


just a little soemthign about the slugs- they are actaully helping the composting process in a similar way to worms, breaking donw the vegetable matter, so don't worry too much about them

17 May, 2007


this has been so helpful i have large compost bin but cant use it properly as cannot turn the compost decided to put compost from baskets in black bags with holes in and i went to turn them over there were lots of white flies and the smell is horrible whats wrong with it

15 Oct, 2008

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