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Troubleshooting your Compost

Cascata Rain Barrel
Cascata Rain Barrel


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The composting process doesn't always go as smoothly as we would like – sometimes we can hit a couple of stumbling blocks before we get the technique perfected. If you find you're having any of the common problems below, here are some easy ways to solve them.

Problem: Compost attracts rodents, flies, etc.

Possible Causes:
  • Food exposed or too close to surface of compost pile
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Fat, Dairy present in compost
  • Bury all food in the middle of the pile.
  • Don't bury inappropriate materials (meats, bones, dairy)
  • Pest proof your composter with a weighted down lid and mesh wire across the bottom.

Problem: Compost pile smells bad

Possible Causes:
  • Pile is too wet
  • Too much nitrogen in the pile, not enough oxygen
  • Food exposed or too close to surface of compost pile
  • Turn pile so it can breathe
  • Add dry materials
  • Reduce how often you water your compost pile
  • Cover food

Problem: Pile too hot

Possible Causes:
  • Pile too large
  • Too much nitrogen
  • Seperate pile into smaller piles, none larger than 4'x4'x4'
  • Mix in dry browns

Problem: Pile doesn't heat up

Possible Causes:
  • Pile is too small
  • Not enough nitrogen in pile
  • Not enough water
  • Add more nitrogen rich materials - grass clipping, fruit, etc.
  • Add more materials
  • Mix up the pile
  • Add water