Wednesday, March 30, 2005

How not to feed squirrels

Bottom view of experimental food digester

Reducing as much of my household waste stream as possible means keeping food scraps out of the trash basket. Our free County-issued compost bins are great for leaves and grass. But, they are not rodent-resistant. Worm bins are one alternative ~ that's an entry for another day. "Food digesters" are another option. I'd read about them, and used a commercially-available one a few years back. Before trying a home-grown option at full-scale, I did what we do with new ideas here in the Division: I began a pilot test.

Last October, my youthful Support Staff helped me drill holes into two buckets: one metal and the other plastic, each with a capacity of about three gallons. We then dug holes, and buried each bucket about 2/3 of the way. This accomplished, we began to add food scraps, including meat. (It's the meat scraps which are especially problematic in a "conventional" compost bin.)

We've been checking on the "digesters" regularly; watch for continued reports of our progress. One of the first things we learned is that the metal can has one big drawback: it rusts. Within days, that lid was rusted shut, only to be removed with great difficulty. Since then, we don't close it tightly, lest it never come off again...

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