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open compost pile stinky?

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open compost pile stinky?

Post  janetgouvas on 6/18/2010, 12:07 pm

Does anyone have an open compost pile? I did not even consider that as an option because we live close to neighbors and I have always thought it was a smelly process. (But I don't actually remember if the one we had when I was a child was stinky or not. Does anybody know?

I had actually decided to dig it, in like we used to do and still think that is a better option for me. It's a little harder to begin with but easier than stirring or shifting the stuff on a regular basis. (Especially since I can get my grandson to do the digging). The can I have my compost in now is really too small, even though kicking it around the yard is easy and kind of cathartic at times

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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  Lavender Debs on 6/18/2010, 12:12 pm

It sure can stink. I used to turn mine every Sunday and yeish! But the smell always settled. It was a farm scent. I have smelled piles that just sit (cold compost is what I think that is called.) They smell like a garbage pile to me.
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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  camprn on 6/18/2010, 12:24 pm

I do open bin composting, and it doesn't smell too bad, like garbage, more often it is a fermenting kind of smell. I keep my kitchen scraps in a small covered container, then transfer them to a closed bucket near the compost pile. When I build a pile or I am going to be adding some lawn clippings I will toss in the kitchen scraps, then cover with clippings as a top layer on it will contain odor and keep flies out. I do add small amounts of dried blood to get the pile to heat up a bit faster, turn it as often as I can, at least once a week and I can usually make finished compost in about 3-4 weeks


Last edited by camprn on 6/18/2010, 12:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  plb on 6/18/2010, 12:34 pm

My compost is in a bin, but it actually smells rather nice. Sort of like woods after rain. I make sure I put plenty of "browns" in, and I turn it very often. Now and then I add a "compost starter" if I see that it's not heating.

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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  junequilt on 6/18/2010, 4:50 pm

janetgouvas, I hope you will do yourself a favor and try open composting. If you dig a hole, your compost may not get enough aeration and then it will smell. That's anaerobic composting, and should be avoided if you have sensitive nostrils.

I bet you'd be pleasantly surprised at the pleasant, earthy scent of a well-balanced compost. Do you have sufficient browns (carbon) to balance out your greens (nitrogen)? That's the ticket. The accepted ration is 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, or 25-30:1, but I've used a little more nitro than that and still had great results.
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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  Megan on 6/18/2010, 7:09 pm

Good compost smells wonderful! Like really, really good soil.... which it is becoming! Very Happy
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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  miinva on 6/18/2010, 7:33 pm

When ours gets smelly I water it well and add some grass clippings.

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open compost

Post  janetgouvas on 6/18/2010, 10:41 pm

Thanks everyone for all the input. I have decided to give open composting a try. After all, if it becomes too smelly for the neighborhood I can always make changes. I may dig some in anyway just to see how it goes. It only means digging down a foot and about the same area as you plan to make your bed. I'll try a small one (about 2' x 4'). After it decomposses for awhile you put on a layer of soil (or Mels Mix) and plant. Maybe I'll try some green beans when its time to plant for the winter. Can't hurt to try

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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  herbarium on 6/19/2010, 1:08 am

Compost usually stinks because either it is the wrong mix (too much of something - usually the green stuff), things that should not be added such as meat or dairy, or because it is too wet.
You may want to check out my blog entry on composting: http://www.herb-arium.com/apps/blog/

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open compost

Post  janetgouvas on 6/19/2010, 8:50 am

Thanks buena. A very informative site. I am constantly amazed at all the information that can be found on the internet, if you only look for it. I see your description of trench composting is just about what I call "digging in". I am using all the right components in my compost, so no problem there. In fact my little can works fine, except for it's too small size.

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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  milaneyjane on 6/19/2010, 9:25 am

Our neighbor has a huge open compost pile---doesn't smell. This year he started throwing a tarp over the top of it and putting some bricks on the side to hold it down. The tarp was a few bucks from Home Depot with green on one side black on the other. It has really accelerated the composting. I am going to try the same.
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open compost stinky?

Post  janetgouvas on 6/19/2010, 2:23 pm

Oooh, I like that. So simple. Does he put any holes in the tarp for circulation or does it just get enough air on it's own? I like this. Maybe combined with "trenching" or "digging in". Or would that be overkill?

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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  milaneyjane on 6/20/2010, 12:57 am

No holes in it. He goes out and just turns it with a pitch fork. And it is a HUGE pile. He said the trick is lots of grass clippings. I am sure it gets some air from the sides. Oh, he puts the black side up for a little extra kick of heat. Off to the side of the compost under some branches he has a pile of leaves and a separate pile of clippings ready to go when he needs to start more compost.
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Re: open compost pile stinky?

Post  SirTravers on 6/20/2010, 3:14 pm

@beuna wrote:Compost usually stinks because either it is the wrong mix (too much of something - usually the green stuff), things that should not be added such as meat or dairy, or because it is too wet./

I'll second this information. The only time my compost ever gets stinky is if I miss a day of turning or the pile gets too much wet, green stuff. A daily turn of the pile and adding wet or green stuff in moderation keeps the pile smelling like fresh soil....that's the happy bacteria doing their job to break everything down that gives the pile that good smell.

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