Common Composting Problems & Cures

As easy as composting can be, there are some common problems that may hinder your composting experience.  The following is a list of common composting problems, causes and solutions:

PROBLEM

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Pile smells rotten and/or attracts flies.

Too wet and/or non-compostables are present.

Turn, add dry-woody materials, cover pile from heavy rains and/or remove grease, etc. and turn.

Compost is damp and warm only in the middle.

Pile too small.

Get more material, mix old ingredients into a new pile.

Pile not composting.

Too dry and/or too much dry-woody material.

Moisten till slightly damp and/or turn, add fresh green materials or organic nitrogen fertilizer.

Pile is damp and sweet-smelling but won't heat up.

Lack of nitrogen.

Mix in nitrogen source such as fresh grass clippings, fresh manure, bloodmeal or ammonium sulfate.

Rodents in pile.

Food wastes in open bin, holes larger than 1/4 inch or non-compostables present.

Turn compost and rodent-proof your bin and remove meat, grease, etc. and turn.

Composting Benefits

There are many benefits to composting, including:

  1. Reduces the cost of getting rid of your garbage-especially when you pay by the bag.
  2. Reduces the stink in your garbage bags. With all that wet stuff gone, your trash is lighter and less putrid.
  3. Doesn't contribute to global warming. Food decomposing in the landfill produces methane, a supercharged greenhouse gas; in your backyard compost bin it doesn't.
  4. Saves space for longer-lived landfills. 
  5. Produces a great soil amendment for your garden. 
  6. Returns nutrients to the soil such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, iron and boron. 
  7. Promotes root development, enhances retention of water and nutrients, and makes the soil easier to cultivate. 
  8. When used on the surface of the soil as mulch, compost reduces rainfall run-off, decreases water evaporation from the soil, and helps to control weeds. 

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