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Organic Gardening: Do composters need to be in the sun?

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 13, Views: 162
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Houston, TX
(Zone 9b)

March 15, 2009
10:57 PM

Post #6272284

I am questioning where I placed my composter. Just started it a couple of weeks ago and it is in full sun. My thinking was that it would help heat things up. My question now is...does it really matter? Will have it in the full sun help it decompose faster? Are there adverse effects to having it in also full shade? I am already having problems with fire ants. I am thinking of starting over (it isn't that full yet) and moving it to an area of the yard that I have never seen ants. It stays a little too damp on the soil for the ants to move in, I think. Anyway, I would love to hear advice on this.

Hahira, GA
(Zone 8b)

March 16, 2009
12:49 AM

Post #6272836

shuggins - I live in South Georgia, & it is HOT in the summer - my composter dries out very quickly, so I have to remember to keep it watered in the summer. I have a compost tumbler (double-sided), & like it very much. I am still getting the hang of composting, though. I added too much wet stuff this winter (no water, though) & it's too wet, so I've been adding some other, less wet stuff , some Alfalfa meal to get it heated, & turning it more often, hoping to overcome. So, the only thing I would say is maybe to put it in a place where a deciduous tree might block the worst afternoon sun in summer, but it would be exposed to full sun in winter. More experienced composters may have better advice. Good luck! Samantha
Houston, TX
(Zone 9b)

March 16, 2009
1:00 AM

Post #6272886

Thanks. Yeah, for me, the sun is an all or nothing thing. My primary purpose for moving it would be to see if that would help with the fire ants since I have never seen then in the area that I am thinking of moving it to. I set it up on a Friday and had ants by Monday. Still haven't found a good means to get them out. It has been raining for several days (thank goodness because we are way behind), but finally, I got out there today and stirred it again and they are still there. I did add some dried molasses today because I heard that will drive them out. Guess we will see.
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

March 16, 2009
1:48 PM

Post #6274712

Compost heat comes primarily from biological action. In your zone, I'd want it in shade.

Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

March 16, 2009
2:06 PM

Post #6274798

Hi Shuggins! You mentioned that you were thinking of moving your compost to an area where "it stays a little too damp on the soil for the ants to move in, I think."
I note that Wikipedia says:
Quoting:Fire ants nest in the soil, often near moist areas, such as river banks, pond edges, watered lawns and highway edges.

I hope you manage to outwit them! They sound terrible.

Houston, TX
(Zone 9b)

March 16, 2009
4:24 PM

Post #6275435

Yeah, don't know why, but in several years, I have never had an issue with them in the particular area and I have had problems almost everywhere else in the yard. This soil is in the shade and still heavy soil, so maybe they don't like that part. Whatever the reason, this area has been ant free. That is why if I move the composter, I want to start over and not move any of the stuff in it. I don't want to transplant the little darlings to the new area. Of course, I have to get all this stuff out of the composter and disposed of without getting eaten alive and also without encouraging them to take up in my raised bed that is too far from the composter. Haven't quite figured out those logistics yet. I am thinking that I will lift the composter and let the excitement calm down. I am going to put bait around the raised bed, so maybe that will help.

BTW, you don't outwit fire ants. I have never seen anything with as much determination as a mound of fire ants...They are terrible.
Raleigh, NC

March 18, 2009
6:37 PM

Post #6285811

bjwilson turned out her compost pile, which I've been to her home and seen was about 10feet long and 5 feet high behind wire fencing, and she was attacked by fire ants. my visit was a few days alter, and her arms, above her gloveline, were a mass of scabs and welts. so do be careful
Savannah, GA

March 19, 2009
1:45 AM

Post #6287697

I am having an ant problem too. The conditions have to be what they have to be to make compost so I am battling them with ant granules. I don't use much. Only once so far actually. I think it worked. Even if your pile was in the sun it would have to be somewhat damp to compost.
Houston, TX
(Zone 9b)

March 19, 2009
12:02 PM

Post #6289005

I put the Green Light Fire Ant Killer with Conserve on my pile. Certainly not optimum, but at least it is labeled for use with veggies and is organic. Guess we will see if works. Hope so. Still haven't decided if I am going to move the composter. My first thought is yes, but I still want the ants gone first. I will likely still start over on the compost just because I do not want to bring them with me, but I don't want them spreading anywhere else in my yard when I move the composter.
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2009
4:28 PM

Post #6289991

I've heard that diatomaceous earth is a decent ant-killer when it's applied as a physical barrier. It needs to be reapplied after every rain, though.
Savannah, GA

March 20, 2009
1:38 AM

Post #6292456

I was wondering about that. I figured any insect with a chitonous exoskeleton would be affected. I could put it around the mound and on top.
Houston, TX
(Zone 9b)

March 20, 2009
1:43 AM

Post #6292489

Okay, so the green light has worked well in 2 of the 4 spots (I actually saw dead ants). It appears to be working in the composter. There appeared to be fewer ants, but they are still there. The label claims to work in 3 to 14 days, so maybe there is still hope.
Raleigh, NC

March 20, 2009
5:24 PM

Post #6295373

that's what they had us put in place of sand in the pool filter. wonder if I could use that for ant control and replace it with clean?
Savannah, GA

March 21, 2009
2:04 AM

Post #6297413

I sprinkled powder on my pile when the ants were crawling and they seem to be gone for now. I'm going to try sprinklings of diatomacous earth as a barrier. I saw a mole hill going under the pile yesterday. My beagles couldn't get it. I'll bet it's having a feast on all the worms in my pile.

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