Love composting, but dislike the idea of having big, furry, four-legged bear friends near your home? I don’t blame you. While I love encountering (black) bears out in the woods (its usually a much less scary experience than folks imagine), having them camped out near a homestead is a different story, as they can pose a problem to children, pets and the like. Read on for some tips on how to compost while still keeping the bears at a healthy paw’s length.
But of course, we’re getting slightly ahead of ourselves here. Why should you worry about bears and compost? Its quite simple, really. Bears love trash; in particular, bears, love trash made up of food, and organic materials. That describes a compost pile to a T, so how do we get around this fundamental natural attraction?
Tip 1: Constrain your compost components to what breaks down most efficiently, and has the least attractive odors. This means you can ditch any meat and bones, including those of fish. With an intensely pungent odor, and a very slow breakdown time, meat and bones do little more than attract bears to your pile. Best to leave them on out.
Tip 2: Turn your compost often, shoveling and raking it apart and back together. This will allow oxygen to spread throughout the pile, speeding decomposition.
Tip 3: Surround your compost with an electric fence. Not even bears like getting shocked. If your compost pile is a little smaller, you may also be able to fit it in a bear-proof container–just be sure it is not airtight, or breakdown will slow to a crawl.
Tip 3.1: I would not recommend this if you’re taking these precautions preventatively, as it will attract bears unnecessarily. But. If you already have a bear problem, go ahead and coat your electric fence with food scent. Don’t overthink this either, just rub some greasy food you’re going to compost on there before you throw it in the pile. Bears will smell this, mouth the wire, and very quickly begin to associate those scents and flavors with a stout electrical rebuke.
Tip 4: Use three parts “brown” material to one part “green.” What does this mean, exactly? “Green” material is what most people think of as “compost”–the material they are really attempting to break down–such as veggies, fruits and other kitchen scraps. “Brown” material, on the other hand, is still organic, but is comprised of leaves, tree bark, wood chips and other such yard debris. It helps oxidize the decomposition process, and most importantly for the task at hand, minimizes smell.
Few things feed a garden like some fresh compost. From potting soil to mulch, the uses for compost are near endless, but it means keeping it around long enough to decompose and use. Following the tips above, you can be sure bears are one critter that won’t be running away with your loamy brown gold anytime soon. Check back in the future for more composting tips, right here on currenthomesteading.com.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”