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Top 5 Composting Problems and How to Fix Them

Composting is a thing of beauty, unless it’s not. Many folks run into problems when composting. It’s okay, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top 5 composting problems people come across and how to fix them.

1. Compost isn’t getting hot. Probably the number one problem with composting is that the pile doesn’t heat up, thus it’s doing a whole lot of nothing. There are several reasons for compost not heating up. First off, the pile might be too small. Secondly, the pile may not contain enough moisture. Turn the pile while adding water. Allow it to sit for a few hours and then check it. If need be, add more water until a handful when squeezed contains beads of water. Turning the pile is necessary to help it decompose as is enough nitrogen in the form of grass clippings or food waste. On the other hand, compost that gets too hot can be problematic too.

2. Compost smells bad. Another issue with composting is that the pile smells, which is never pleasant. The nasty odor rotten eggs may be the result of lack of air due to compacting or excess moisture. Turn the pile to add air and dry out. Also, add wood chips or some other carbon bulk to increase air space. If the pile smells more like ammonia, there is probably too much nitrogen in it. The solution is to add carbon material such as leaves or straw.

3. Compost takes too long to decompose. Let’s face it, we’re not always patient and composting takes time. That said, the process will take much less time if proper maintenance is achieved – this includes managing factors such as proper carbon to nitrogen ratio (browns and greens), surface area, aeration, moisture and temperature. Keeping compost ingredients smaller can help with quicker decomposition too.

4. Compost has bugs. Another complaint is that the pile is attracting bugs, typically flies. Well, assuming you are composting in the great outdoors, for the most part this is normal. To minimize the insect issue, turn the pile from the outside toward the inside so it heats up and keep the pile just moist enough so that beads of water can be seen when you do the squeeze test.

5. Compost attracts animals. Lastly, when rats and other animals are interested in the pile, this can become a problem. This means that you have food sources to close to the surface of the pile. Things like food waste should be buried between several inches of carbon material. Also, don’t add waste such as oil, fat, dairy, bones or meat to the pile. The aroma sends a clear signal to wildlife that dinner is served.

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