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Thursday, June 16, 2011

No Pain Compost Pile and the Las Vegas Waterbug (Cockroach)

Q. I would like to start a compost pile if it is not a back killer turning it. Any suggestions on how to get started so I don't have to return to trashing my kitchen garbage and coffee grounds? We also have tons of cockroaches and wondering what organic gardeners are doing to get rid of them.

Compost piles at The Orchard
A. Cockroaches are decomposers. They are out there looking for food that they can eat and, in the process, eating aids in their food breaking down and decomposing. The problem is that they do not distinguish between “their food” and “our food” so it is important to keep compost piles as far away from where we live as possible.

It is also important to try and keep an open area between the house and the compost pile where they can be pounced on by predators such as birds, lizards, wasps and even cats.

Stale beer works well as an organic control as it does also with slugs and snails. No, I own no stock in beer companies. You can make a bait station that they cannot crawl out of by using a slippery sided steep container with a bait such as stale beer, coffee grounds, vanilla or human food scraps containing sugar or fat combined with an inch of water for drowning them. They have to be cleaned out regularly.

Diatomaceous earth works well as long as it stays dry as does boric acid powder. This can be placed on the outside of the home at possible points of entry. Leaking water serves as an attractant such as irrigation boxes and laundry rooms with washing machines or hoses that leak.

Don’t keep wet sources of water close to the house or, if an irrigation box is continuously wet, then get it fixed and in this case important in reducing cockroach populations.

Wash containers before putting them in the trash. Wash garbage containers frequently to eliminate possible “their food”. Finally there are chemical sprays that are quite effective sprayed in an area where the house meets the ground and sealing any possible holes or cracks where they can enter.

Use chemicals as a last resort in pest control.


  1. Lava sqnd is good for trees in pots in the desert. Dont use compost. Topdress with compost only.

  2. Lava sand is good for trees in pots in the desert. Dont use compost. Topdress with compost only.

    1. exact opposite of what I have experienced. I used to believe that desert plants did not benefit from compost added to the soil of desert plants. I was taught differently by faculty from the University of Sonora in the Sonoran Desert. When we planted cacti in soil without compost but topdressed only they did not do as well as those planted in soil mixed with compost. The cacti growing in soil with ocmpost acheived the same growth in one year that cacti growing in soil without compost mixed, only applied to the surface, gained in two years. This is also when additional fertilizer was applied to both as well. The major problem of compost in soils for desert plants is drainage. As long as the soil drains easily in both cases and they are not watered too often compost is a good addition to desert soils for desert plants if you want more rapid growth.