Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 at 7:38 PM
Ok, I have several ideas.
It is great that you know to add your "colors", and also that no meat or dairy. The other food items that do not compost well are citrus, and onions.
First thought it that it is fairly normal to attract insects, they are part of the break down process. Cockroaches are new to me though.
The next thing, is this cycle is lengthy. That is what most people get caught up on. It can take a few months or several months to break down completely depending on what is in there and moisture and heat levels.
Before I had my worms (which do about 95% of my composting) I had bins that I built. There were 3 out of poles and slats, the first bin was for fresh items, then in a month or so I would sort out what was mostly on the broken down and shovel it into the 2nd bin. Then in another month (or in some cases 2) I would repeat the process taking the pretty nearly finished items into the 3rd bin, and items from the 2nd to the 1st and so on.
Covering can help, the heat will break things down more quickly and also kill seedlings if the cover is dark. Also retains moisture.
The size of what you are adding can be a factor in how fast this process is. Like what we eat, the better chewed, the faster our body can grab it. Same with composting, the smaller the bits, the better. Which is why a lot of people put the big stuff through a chipper. So branches take a looong time.
Each type of item gives off various elements, nitrogen, etc... so if your compost is too heavy on grass and less on browns or foods, you get the idea, that can play a factor. Grass clippings seem to take forever to breakdown.
I would also recommend some reading on lasagna gardening. It works wonderfully, and can really help with composting items.
All this said, I no longer keep a compost pile. I rent now, so I don't have yard clippings and I put all my mail, paper and food scraps in my worm bin. I have had the absolute best of luck with this method. Hands down! The soil it creates, and the "compost tea" (read worm pee and food breakdown juices) does wonders for my plants and for a garden.
There are tons of websites for composting and there maybe ideas there for you that is specific to what you are trying to break down.
All this being said, keep up the TREMENDOUS work of keeping this out of a landfill!!!
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