Bad Smelling Compost Pile - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Connie Rudd
Griffith, IN
Question by connietuptu
April 12, 2000
I HAVE A PRETTY LARGE, DIVIDED COMPOST CONTAINER. SINCE MY HUSBAND DIED I AM NOT TOO SURE WHAT TO DO WITH IT. I FILLED IT PRETTY MUCH WITH THATCH AND GRASS CLIPPINGS AND NOW IT HAS DEVELOPED A BAD SMELL. MY HUSBAND ALWAYS KEPT THE GOOD COMPOST IN ONE HALF AND THE WORKING MATERIAL IN THE OTHER HALF. IT IS PRETTY FULL NOW (ABOUT 2-3' OVER THE TOP OF THE CONTAINER. SHOULD I TRY TO TURN IT AS IS? SHOULD I DIVIDE THE RAW MATERIAL BETWEEN THE TWO BINS AND LET IT WORK THAT WAY? WE NEVER (OR RARELY) HAD AN ODOR IN THE CONTAINER. I AM REALLY AT A LOSS AS TO WHAT TO DO NOW.

I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. I WILL BE BACK, I AM SURE, WITH MORE GARDENING QUESTIONS. I HAVE 2 20 X 5' FLOWER BEDS AND 2 30" X 15 VEGETABLE BEDS WHICH I AM TRYING TO HANDLE. I DO NEED HELP


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Answer from NGA
April 12, 2000

0

When compost develops a bad smell it is usually because it has gotten out of balance, either because it is too wet and/or because there is too much nitrogen-rich or "green" material in the mix. The pile should be slightly damp like a wrung out sponge and there should be a mixture of fresh green material and drier brown material in it. The green would be fresh green grass clippings, for example. To stop the odor you will need to dry the pile out by adding more "brown" or high carbon material such as old fallen leaves, straw, wood shavings or whatever similar material is available. Mix this with the grass clippings and the odor should stop.

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