Soil and Compost forum: Composting advice required

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Bcbeaver
Apr 2, 2018 1:56 PM CST
I had a pile of compostable material, some was in a Rubbermaid some was on a concrete pad. It was kitchen waste, grass, dead tomato vines, general garden waste.... the stuff in the Rubbermaid bin was pretty gross, it had no drainage or ventilation and had been sitting outside all winter being added to weekly.

So I built a rotating drum composter. I mounted 4 casters to a frame and put a 45 gallon drum on them. I cut a door, drilled a bunch of holes in the drum and screwed 2 2x4 baffles inside the drum to make sure it tumbled when turned.

I threw it all in the drum the remembered I had some compost starter I had bought 10+ years previous that turned up when I moved. I dumped it in and gave the composter a spin. 2 weeks and many spins later I'm seeing no sign of proper composting. I open the door to look in and it is a wet mess with many flies. It hasn't been warm here yet so perhaps I just need to chill out and let it warm up.

I also have a 2 year old pile of chicken manuer/wood shavings that is ready to go on the garden I could throw some of into the mix. I brought 12 Rubbermaid bins of it with me when I moved. :)

Any advice to help this compost turn out great is appreciated.

Name: Christie
43016 (Zone 6b)
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cwhitt
Apr 2, 2018 2:30 PM CST
I think I would give it more time. I think being so wet you had an anaerobic pile, which is why it smelled so bad and is attracting flies. If it was me, I would go ahead and add the manure and shavings. And then give it more time - the new micro-organisms need time to now establish themselves now that it is not so wet. Those are my thoughts.
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Name: Rj
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crawgarden
Apr 2, 2018 3:02 PM CST
Like Christie said, it takes time. The fastest I have had with my outdoor composting pile is 90 days, typically it takes about a year.
FWIW, 1 friend had the tumbler type of composter and did not have great luck with it.
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Name: Chris
Hermann, MO (Zone 5b)
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FoolOnTheHill
Apr 15, 2018 11:26 PM CST
You probably need more brown material (dry/carbon). The wood shavings should help. If you have any pile of leaves that you didn't get around to getting rid of or paper bags those would be great, too. In those rare instances that I get paper bags from the store, I save them and throw veggie scraps in when I'm doing a lot of prep, and then just throw the whole bag in the compost. In your case, with a lot of wet smelly anaerobic action already happening, if you add paper bags - shred them first, and get them mixed in well.

Additionally, throw in a bunch of soil from your yard or garden. This will have organisms that will help break things down.

I inherited a drum composter from my dad. Always composted in bins before, and didn't think I'd be keen on something that wasn't in touch with the earth, since there are so many living things that contribute to quick compost. Turns out, I really like it for adding to over winter, as well as quick composting during summer. Mine stays active nearly all winter, but it's in full sun. If your drum isn't in sun, and you can move it to a spot in full sun, I'd recommend that.
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
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MoonShadows
Apr 16, 2018 4:42 AM CST
Shredded corrugated cardboard is also another good source of carbon. If your don't have a shredder that will tear it up, you can wet the cardboard down. That makes it easier to tear up.
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Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
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fwmosher
Apr 17, 2018 10:44 AM CST
Suggestion: Don't use wood shavings in compost or on beds. #1: It draws all the nitrogen out of the earth breaking down the wood chips, little will be available for your plants; #2: It attracts all kinds of plant-eating centipedes that will devour the fruit of your efforts. Cheers!

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