Got Gloop? Avoiding a Stinky Compost Bin
You head out to the backyard, and lift up the lid of the compost bin. The stench just about knocks you over, as do the wafting clouds of fruit flies. Oh, yuck. Is this really worth the soil you’ll get at the end of it, and the satisfaction that you get from being environmentally friendly? Maybe not. But there is a better way to compost, a way that will get you sweet-smelling compost.
Let’s take a quick look at how compost works. Compost is the process of turning raw materials into soil. This happens in forests and fields around the world, and it can happen in your garden as well. In forests, the raw materials might be needles, leaves, and the bits of bugs and animal poop that sit on the forest floor. In your own compost, you’re probably not quite that ambitious – you likely put old teabags, bits of banana peel, and carrot tops into the compost. Then, large animals such as worms and smaller creatures such as bacteria get working on your compost. Fungi join in as well. All of these decomposers work hard to turn these raw materials into soil.
Some compost critters need air and some of them don’t. If you have gloopy compost that smells, something’s likely gone wrong with your air flow. Let’s figure out why!
Alternating Greens and Browns
To get good compost, you need to avoid the pitfall of many eager composters: you must compost more than fruit and vegetable peelings. While it’s tempting to place all of that slop from your kitchen into the bin over and over again, you need to balance this nitrogen-rich green material with some carbon-rich material if you want your compost to work. Add a layer of shredded newspaper or leaves. This will bring some air into the bin and bring carbon as well. The most common cause of gloopy compost is the over-enthusiastic introduction of a lot of kitchen materials.
Set Up for Air Flow
When you make your compost, make sure that it’s designed to add a little bit of air to the bin. Large holes should be covered with mesh to make sure that rodents don’t get in. Add bulky items such as leaves and small sticks to create spaces so that the air-loving critters can do their job and turn your compost into soil.
If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables or you have a large family, you may well need more than one bin. Instead of putting stress on a single bin, have a few bins side by side. This allows you to fill up one bin, then move to the next. You can also alternate from bin to bin if you have more than two bins, using two bins as the active compost and letting another one or two rest.
Speed Up Your Compost With Comfrey
Comfrey is the bane of many gardeners, since it has the propensity to grow everywhere and anywhere. Use this tendency to your advantage! Add shredded comfrey to your compost, and it will help move the decomposition process along. Quick compost equals less gloopy compost!
Going for the Vegetables
If you’re tried all of the solutions above and they’re just not working for you, don’t give up. Some composting is better than no composting. For a while, try reducing the scope of what you compost. If you’re having pest and moisture problems, remove the fruit from the items that you move out to the bin. If you’re attracting rodents, get scrupulous about removing any traces of cooked food, dairy, meat, and grains from the items that you bring to the bin. Add items like the peelings from uncooked vegetables, layer them with leaves or newspaper, and watch your compost improve! Gradually add fruit back into the mix, and see how far you can go.
Got gloop? Get good soil instead. Try these tips, and your compost may not smell like perfume, but it should smell like good, rich soil that’s ready to move out onto your garden beds.
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