Moldy wet mess in compospin. I don't know what I'm doing. :o( - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-18-2011, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone else a compospin?  I really find composting where I live to be troublesome.  I have had no luck keeping critters and/or weeds away from my previous attempts at composting, so when my parents got me this sucker for Christmas, I was giddy as a school girl!  I've been filling her up with kitchen scraps since Christmas, and I added in the wood shavings and chicken pooh from my little coup about a month ago.  It's a yucky, wet, moldy mess, it's most distinct smell is ammonia from the poop.  Was it bad news to add the chicken pooh and wood shavings?  I'm clueless as to what to add to try and balance this out.  More kitchen scraps? Wait until I can add some dry grass clippings?


I've decided to take the lid off the thing during the day for a few days to try and get it to dry out a little, hopefully that will help? 


I think I'm scared of adding any more wood shavings to the ball, but there's a pretty big pile of just poop under the roost in the coop I've been thinking about.  Can you add too much pooh?  If that's the case I think I'll just dissolve it in some water and dump it on my grass or something.



Ugh.  I really want composting to be successful!  What can I do?

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#2 of 5 Old 03-18-2011, 06:02 PM
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I've been wanting to compost for a long time, but am too scared to start.  However I have done a lot of research, and I've read that an ammonia smell is caused by too much nitrogen.  Try adding more carbon smile.gif  Good luck!

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#3 of 5 Old 03-19-2011, 05:37 AM
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Grass clippings are "green" material not "brown."  You definitely need some brown material in there or it's going to continue to stink.  Leaves are the easiest, but cardboard and newspaper will do in a pinch (they aren't my first choice). 

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#4 of 5 Old 03-19-2011, 05:56 AM
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Don't get too frustrated, this same problem happens to a lot of people.  Leaving the lid open for a few days is probably a good idea.  I'd also add some newspaper (just the newsprint, not the ad pages) or leaves, if you have them.  The PP is right, you likely have too much nitrogen, as well as too much moisture.  I don't like composting with wood chips, personally, because they break down slowly enough that you have to add a lot more carbon than necessary to keep the pile from doing what yours is doing, and your compost product then has a lot of half-decomposed wood in it.  (I bin excess wood chips separately and they also get a lot of fungal hyphae and sometimes mushrooms sprout when I spread them later, though I've never had that happen when I put them in the compost.)  Don't be afraid to add a lot of newspaper/leaves/whatever - you want at least enough to soak up all the extra moisture.  Shredding the newspaper (or letting your kids rip it up) and mixing it in really well helps it break down before it dries out. 


I know it's not the standard book advice, but whenever I compost I start with a whole lot of carbon-rich ingredients (in my case mostly fallen tree leaves) and add nitrogen-rich ingredients (kitchen scraps, grass clippings) as I go.  (I also toss in soil and/or used potting soil from time to time.)  That method seems to keep the pile from getting soggy or smelly, and prevents the loss of nitrogen (IMHO) because all of it is needed as soon as it is added.  Some people prefer to store carbon-rich ingredients separately and add them as they add nitrogen-rich things like kitchen scraps or manure - I think that's fine too if you have the space, I just don't.  HTH

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#5 of 5 Old 03-19-2011, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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So yeah.  I definitely need more carbon! I was really only thinking in green/brown terms as I added stuff not nitrogen/carbon terms.  I hacked up some cardboard last night and added it today.  I definitely needs lots more, though, so I'll start keeping my eye open for it around the house.  We have hardly any trees here, so I don't really have any leaves unless they blow in from somewhere else.


I get confused about grass clippings.  Aren't they considered a "brown" if they are left to dry before you add them to the pile?  Where did I get that info?  Geez.  Not that the grass is actually growing anyway...


Maybe I'll see if I can get some ashes from my parents wood stove. 


I'm inspired once again to be a successful composter! 



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