Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Four Solutions to that Unpleasant Odor in Your Compost Pile

Compost is the best way to ensure the soil your vegetables grow in have all of the nutrients they need as well as proper pH levels and adequate moisture retention. But before you can get there you need good compost. If your compost has a foul odor here are 4 solutions you can try today.

One possible cause for that odor may be the fact that your compost pile lacks air. This happens when the pile is too compacted either from the weight of all the organic material or overwatering. The first solution is obvious and that is to aerate the pile. By turning over your compost pile with a pitchfork you are getting air into areas where it did not exist before.

If it is due to over watering, simply add in some “browns” such as leaves, wood chips etc., and that will help absorb the extra moisture, and then repeat the previous step.

Does your compost pile have an ammonia smell? This usually means you have too much nitrogen in your pile. This can be caused by lots of “greens” such as grass clippings. If this occurs you will need to balance out the pile by adding in some “browns” like you did before and aerate as well. You can also add a ventilation pipe to the middle of your pile so air can flow into the center of the pile. A Google search on the words “compost pile ventilation pipe” will give you plenty of ideas.

Another issue that may be causing the odor in your compost pile is the lack of nitrogen, the complete opposite of the previous step. This occurs when you do not have enough greens or nitrogen rich matter in the pile. Add some to your pile such as grass clippings, fresh live stock manure or blood meal. Use your pitch fork to mix it in and you should be good to go.

As a rule of thumb try to have a good balance of “green” and “brown” material to make sure that your compost pile has all of the ingredients it needs to produce the end result, humus, filled with everything your plants will need to grow and thrive.

Once you have a good balance then set up your compost pile so that it receives maximum air flow. I have a four foot by four foot square fenced in area that I put my greens and browns into. This fencing structure ensures that my compost pile receives adequate air from all sides. Every so often I will go out with a pitchfork and turn the pile over so I can get the outside ingredients to the inside of the pile, where the bacteria are really working hard to break this material down.

About the Author
Michael C. Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

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