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I've got a neglected 'dalek' compost bin, full, very dry, with a colony of red ants.  Clearly I need to start again, and be more diligent, but what do I do with the current contents?  Apart from the red ants, it's mostly spent compost.  Can I spread it as a mulch - will I be over-run with red ants, and if so, how do I get rid of them first???


if you disturb the ants and dont leave it alone, they will move on

So, Discodave, do you mean I should turn it, or give it a poke with a big stick or something?


yes, give it a turn about once a week. 



You will need to add some water to that compost bin, for the action of rotting to restart the contents need to be moist and damp. You cannot make compost with dry ingredients. This will also move the ants along, they don't like being wet.


Thank you.  I was hoping to have a magic formula to get rid of the existing mess once and for all so that I can start again properly with the new season.  Perhaps a second Dalek is the answer. 


If you have got spent compost-spread it on the beds-the ants will just clear off.

Ants are usually a sign it is too dry


You need to keep compost bins moist for the rotting process to begin and continue.

Just watering it will make the ants move.   If you add a small bottle of essential oil of cloves to a 10 litre can of water and water that on after the first wetting, the ants will not come back.  They can't stand the smell.


I start compost in an old fashion wooden slatted bin then transfer to the 'dalek', this year I had a colony of ants which improved the structure no end - very fine, fully composted perfect for seeds.

Thanks everybody.  Off now to get cracking on that Dalek!

Gardening Grandma

When I first started composting my husband was concerned in case we got rats and mice. I asked about it at a garden show and was told to keep the compost wet because nothing likes to live in wet accommodation.


I had ants in my compost dalek - first time, I poured a lot of water on it and left the lid off in the rain for a couple of days-  not difficult last year. The ants went.

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