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Composting

All leaf and yard waste collected throughout the City is brought to the Barrie Landfill where it is composted into a marvelous, rich, and crumbly layer of organic matter. Residents can also start their own backyard compost.

Home Grown Compost Available at Barrie's Landflll

Home grown compost is nature's gift to any gardener and free of unwanted plant seeds due to the high temperatures reached during the composting process. Luscious compost, generated from Barrie's leaf and yard waste collection program, is processed as per the Ontario Guidelines for Compost Quality.

This compost is often available for purchase at the City Landfill (272 Ferndale Drive North) at competitive rates much cheaper than retail! Call 705-739-4219 to confirm availability. Barrie residents, non-residents and commercial businesses can purchase. Click here for rates. The City also uses this compost as top dressing in parks and on flowerbeds throughout the city.

Backyard Composting

Why should I compost?

Using your green bin and/or composting your kitchen and yard waste can cut your household waste almost in half and dramatically reduce the amount of household garbage going to our rapidly filling landfill.

Why Use Compost?

The benefits of using compost include:

  • Increases organic matter in soils
  • Builds sound root structure
  • Makes clay soils airy so they drain
  • Gives sandy soils body to hold moisture
  • Attracts and feeds earthworms
  • Balances pH (acidity/alkalinity) of soil
  • Reduces water demands of plants and trees
  • Helps control soil erosion
  • Reduces plant stress from droughts and freezing
  • Can extend the growing season
  • Improves vitamin and mineral content of food grown in compost-rich soils
  • When generously applied, compost eliminates reliance upon petrochemical fertilizers
  • Healthier Plants
    Plants do best in soil that is teeming with micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and earthworms.  These and many other organisms create a food that provides the soil with the nutrients plants need to thrive. Healthy soils create healthy plants, and healthy plants are good at resisting pests and diseases.   
  • Water Savings
    As the level of organic matter in your soil builds up, it becomes like a sponge.  Water soaks into the soil rather than running off it. Secondly, more air space allows more water to be held, meaning you use less irrigation.
Backyard Compost Frequently Asked Questions
What items can I compost?

Acceptable Items

From the Garden:

  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Plants and weeds
  • Old potting soil
  • Soft plant stems

From the Kitchen:

  • Fruit scraps
  • Vegetable peels
  • Egg shells (crushed)
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee grounds with filters
  • Shredded paper (not glossy)

Unacceptable Items (the odour from some of these items attracts pests!):

  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Plastics
  • Metals Fats and oils
  • Dairy products
  • Pet waste
  • Cheese, meat or sauces
Where can I get a composter?

There are two types of composters, the Enviro Cycle and the Soilsaver. They are available at the City of Barrie's Environmental Centre to Barrie residents only. Static backyard composters are $30 (plus tax), rotating backyard composters are $50 (plus tax).

How long does composting take?

Composting can take anywhere from six months to two years depending on the amount of organics being composted, the aeration and the amount of water.

Turning your compost frequently to aerate it will help speed up the process. Breaking the organics into smaller pieces will also help by increasing the surface area for the micro-organisms to do their work.

Will it smell?

Your compost should not smell if it is working well. If you notice an unpleasant odour, you could have too much water in your compost, or it may be too compacted. You should turn the pile frequently to aerate it and help speed up the process. You can also add some cardboard egg cartons, or autumn leaves to help soak up the moisture. If you are adding grass clippings to your compost, only add small amounts as they are high in nitrogen and will cause an unpleasant odour when added in large quantities.

Where should I place my composter?

Choose a spot where there is good water drainage. If the drainage is extremely good, then you need to place it in a shady spot so the compost does not dry out. If the drainage is poor, a spot in the sun is ideal.

**As a courtesy to your neighbours, please place your composter approximately 1 metre (3 ft) away from your adjoining fence line(s).

Can I compost in the winter?

Yes! Composting generates heat. In the cold winter months, the process will just slow down a little. Continue to add organics to your composter even if it is frozen, the process will continue when the heap thaws out.

When making compost, how should I tend it?
  • Heap ingredients into layers making sure that the resulting pile gets the proper amount of air, moisture and materials needed to maintain the right temperature
  • Mix it up from time-to-time to aerate the pile and help speed-up the process The simplest blend of compost is made from leaves and grass clippings mixed at a rate of about three to one. However, feel free to add anything from the list above
  • Remember that the quicker things heat up, the quicker they rot, and the quicker they rot, the quicker you have finished compost!
  • Remember to turn the heap (ideally every few days) or as often as you can. Keep the pile moist but not soggy. A handful of compost feels about the same as a squeezed-out sponge.

 
Pest-Proofing Your Compost Bin

Are there pests in your neighbourhood? You may not even be aware of any small critters like raccoons, mice rats, insects, etc., until you start to compost. Previously unnoticed pests may now be looking for a new source of food or a cozy bed in your compost pile. The best solution is prevention. If you compost correctly, your pile will be less attractive to pests. The following information outlines some general tips and specific methods of protecting your compost pile. Composting will not encourage pest populations to move into your area, though a neglected pile may attract local populations and make them more visible to you.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not compost any meats, fish, bones, oils, fatty foods or pet waste. Animals may be attracted by the smell and the decomposition process slows down as the materials take longer to break down.
  • Place materials that are high in carbon (e.g. dry leaves or dead plants) at the bottom of the pile and along the inside walls of your compost bin. This will provide good airflow, drainage and odour control. Ensure that each layer remains slightly damp to discourage nesting. A well maintained bin will not attract as many pests.
  • Cover any exposed food with a layer of dry leaves or a 2.5 cm (1 inch) layer of soil or finished compost or bury food waste into the centre of the pile. This reduces smells which may attract pests. Micro-organisms present in the soil help to speed up the composting process.
  • Turn or poke holes in the pile every week or two. A regularly "disturbed" pile helps deter pests.
  • Take measures to build a "hot" compost pile. This is an active compost pile in which the internal temperatures become very hot. Maintaining a "hot" pile takes some extra effort, but it is an effective way to ward off unwanted pests and you'll have finished compost in a shorter period of time.
  • Harvest finished compost at the bottom of the bin every three to six months. This will discourage pests from nesting into the warm finished compost.
  • If possible, choose a location for your compost bin that has good drainage and at least partial sunlight. This improves the efficiency of your pile. Place your bin at least 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) from fences, decks and buildings to discourage pests and to improve air flow.

Pests will be less likely to discover your compost if they are not already attracted by other sources. It's a good idea to put your plastic garbage bags into  a container at the curb, or to not put out your garbage bags until the morning of collection. Keep leaves and other materials for your pile in a secure garbage can near the composter. Piles of yard waste can provide a safe, warm place for pests to hide or nest. Food waste to be added to the compost pile should be kept in a sealed container away from the bin. Sources of fresh water and bird seed also attract some pests.

Insects

Flies, wasps, hornets and bees can be discouraged from invading your compost bin by covering any exposed food with a 2.5 cm (1 inch) layer of soil or by burying fresh food into the pile. Add air to your compost pile by turning it or create air channels by plunging a broomstick handle into the pile. Keep the pile slightly damp so that it will heat up. Higher temperatures and moisture will kill any fly larvae and discourage bees, wasps and hornets from nesting. If a nest has already been set up in your bin, soak the pile completely with a hose and spray nozzle and leave it damp until the colony vacates the pile. The pile can also be dismantled after freeze up in the fall.

Rodents and Other Small Animals

Pest proofing your bin, as described below, will prevent any animals from tunneling up through the bottom, climbing into the bin from the sides or top, or chewing holes in the bin.

  • Use hardware cloth to line the bottom and outside walls of your bin. For mice, 0.5cm (1/4 inch), 16 gauge should be used; 1 cm (1/2 inch), 20 gauge for keeping out larger pests. (Hardware cloth is galvanized wire mesh, available at most home improvement or hardware stores. Chicken wire is not good protection against unwanted visitors.)
  • Get a tight-fitting lid or modify your existing lid by adding hinges and a latch. Or stretch a bungy cord or chain across the lid and fasten it to the sides of the bin. A heavy brick or rock will also keep the lid secure. Bungy cords can be dangerous if children are assisting in the maintenance of the composter.
  • Pile rocks or bricks around the outside bottom edge of your bin as a good temporary measure against some burrowing animals.

Animal Repellents

  • Environmentally safe animal repellents can be found in hardware and gardening stores or pest control companies.
  • For information on ultrasonic sound devices used to repel rodents and other wildlife, contact Health Canada, Pest Management at 1-800-267-6315. You can also ask about the effectiveness of a product you own or want to purchase, and get recommendations.

 

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