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STINKY Compost, need help quick...
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Zenia    Posted 09-30-2004 at 20:09:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
My compost pile is way way too wet, and infested with grubs that stink like the devil. My sister thinks they are blackfly larvae, I don't know; they are about an inch long, brownish, not squishy like maggots and I have seen only about two blackfies. The grubs have been there at least a year.

A friend gave me a truckload of buffalo maunure. The compost is made of that, kitchen scraps, and lawn grass. Main problem I know is it is way too wet, I just broke it all apart and man oh man it is stinking up the neighborhood! The amonia smell is bad enough, but the rot is really putrid. It will take days to dry & not smell so bad. Thing is, I have chickens & rabbits on a 1/4 acre suburban lot, I don't want the neighbors to blame the stench on the chickens cause it's not them.

What can I use to squelch the smell, that I won't mind later having in my organic garden?? Will lime work? Is it safe? I have very, very clay soil/ hardpan.


JOMO    Posted 10-01-2004 at 13:44:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
So you've got chickens, rabbits, garden and a compost pile with a truck load of buffalo maunure on a 1/4 acre lot, with a house I assume? That is about 10800 sq. ft., minus 1800 for a house, you've got about 9000 sq. ft. to work with at the very most. If that were in 1 piece and square it'd be about 95'x95', but of course it can't be. And, if all the lots are about a 1/4 acre, the houses are less than 200' apart. Your neighbors must be thrilled!!!
I myself have such neighbors, 2 Ph.D.'s in psychology from California move in about 10 years ago. Now this ain't the highest priced neighborhood in town, but the superitendent of schools is also their next door neighbor and the chairman of the university science department lives 1 door away, so it ain't exactly a trailer park either. Well these 2 psychos tilled up their whole front yard, everything between the house and the street, the driveway and the property line, and planted garden, every year! It's corn, sunflowers, beans, tomatos, watermelon, pumpkins, okra... you name it they've had it at one time or another. They tilled up the whole back yard, line to line and planted watermellons a couple of years. Then they started taking in dogs... and letting them run! The other neighbor put a stop to that because of his grand kids visiting. So they fenced the back yard, spaced boards and about 5 feet tall. Dogs walked out between the boards. Ph.D.'s in psychology, from California! So they filled in the spaces in the fence. I've never complained because I don't plan on moving, and I know someday they will, and someone will come along and make the yard a yard again. Maybe me, because the place will sell DIRT cheap when they are gone. But for Christ's sake, if you want to farm, move to the country and don't be who everyone in town know as the Fruitcakes from California. People will only put up with so much, and stench may just be the straw that gets you sued.

Fruitcake IN California..    Posted 10-01-2004 at 15:01:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
LOL, you are too funny! As a matter of fact, I do live in California, lol. My house is only 1500 sq feet, so I guess that gives an extra 500 on my postage-stamp lot for the puppy I am getting this month. Don't worry, I'll not let him loose in the 'hood.

Gosh, you read my mind... When I moved in, the front yard was very neatly mowed and watered weeds, that looked like a lawn from afar. I tilled it, and right now I have about a dozen watermelons and a few pumpkin plants growing. I'll get around to a proper garden next year. I was thinking a circular English herb garden, and roses, plus some edibles and medicinal herbs. It will be a nice contrast from all the lawns on the block.

Been too busy working on the back yard, so far. I had 60 yards of clay & rock hauled out, had it graded, and put in a colored concrete patio, lawn, garden, and redwood/ cedar play fort. The other half of the yard is the fenced in pool. My yard has a 6' redwood fence on all sides, and is completely private. The chickens are not a problem, they just get a little noisy mid-morning at laying time. No complaints yet... but that compost would have done it! Breaking it apart and getting air in there was all it needed apparently, it doesn't smell much today. I have the most sensitive sense of smell of anyone I know, outside of two Organoleptic Specialists who make a living classifying decompositon in seafood for the FDA.

I love California. Thanks for the chuckles, I mean that sincerely... I can just picture your neighbors. PS, the day after I put my Sun, Wind, Waves Not Oil and War bumper sticker on my Toyota, my neighbors across the street plastered their garage door and pick-up truck with American Flags. It's OK, I hung a flag, too ; ).

Zenia    Posted 10-01-2004 at 07:40:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks! I am going to get out there first thing in the am and spread that stuff out to dry, and cover it with some dry organic material. I have some, in another part of the yard. I just remembered 1/2 of what must be smelling so bad is I put about 25 LBS of moldy hen laying pellets in there, which was then covered with kitchen scraps & grass. It's all black, now, and gooey. Too much water. I am sure there are no meat scraps in there, we are mostly vegetarian anyway. Any ideas on how to get rid of the grubs?

RN    Posted 10-01-2004 at 16:54:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
As for getting rid of grubs? Try mixing in wood ashes if easily available. You also stated something about having chickens-let them do some snacking? RN.

bkeepr    Posted 10-01-2004 at 10:44:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you mix the dry matter in really well as everyone described, the heat will kill everything--grubs, weed seeds, and the like. You should re-mix every week or so to keep it cooking.

Tom A

Linda in Utah    Posted 10-01-2004 at 09:31:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Zenia, don't just cover it with dry organic material - mix that dry organic material into the pile!

Bkeepr    Posted 10-01-2004 at 04:27:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
Agree with everyone else, you need to add lots of dry carbon matter, but want to add some.

Examples of what you need: old straw or hay, dry leaves, sawdust, finely chipped branches/wood and you need lots of it...something like twice as much by volume as what is in the pile now.

Mix these in with the rest of your stuff well; your aim is to introduce the carbon material as well as lots of air into your pile, so mix very well. Odor should stop pretty quickly, pile should heat very hot...I actually had one start smouldering on me about 2 years ago.

And no, you really should not add meat or grease to compost as they really don't compost well but they attract vermin like crazy.

Tom A

mojo    Posted 10-01-2004 at 04:53:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
Where you been keeping yourself? I was worried the scaffolding hadn't work as planned.

hanging on by my fingerti    Posted 10-01-2004 at 10:42:26       [Reply]  [No Email]

Have been swamped at work, holding down 3 full-time positions by myself--none very well.

Haven't finished with the scaffolding yet, hope to get the last part done this weekend. I still hate it, but have gotten a little less white-knuckled as time has gone by.

thanks for asking!

Tom A

RN    Posted 09-30-2004 at 20:26:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
You need more dry carbon material- dry leaves, straw, even slightly aged sawdust would help. Try stirring pile and mixing whatever dry material in you can find, wait a week and stir/mix again. You could mix 1/2 garden soil into pile or bury in garden as a French double dug bed to control oder- this would give you a good garden bed also. RN.

Linda in Utah    Posted 09-30-2004 at 20:25:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
A few thoughts. If the grass clippings are in clumps or not mixed well, flies will breed in the grass clippings.

Do you have a rototiller? Use it to mix and turn the pile every day - even a couple of times a day until it dries out enough. If it's raining, you may want to cover the pile with plastic to keep the additional moisture out and just uncover on sunny days.

What kind of kitchen scraps did you add? Only vegetable and fruit trimmings or did you happen to add meat?

Your ratio of organic matter to manure may be way off. Try adding straw or other organic matter. When the mix is right, earthworms will show up to help you process the pile. Generally the more organic matter, the less problems with odor. Just make sure it's mixed thoroughly with the manure.

I don't know about adding lime. Maybe someone from further east than I am can answer that one. We don't add lime here as our soil is already very alkaline.

Doc    Posted 09-30-2004 at 20:55:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
I agree with Linda, be sure you don't add any meat, bones, or any animal parts to the compost. Just fruit, vegetables and the like. Lime will help some and as the others said, add dry material to the mix and turn over daily for a while till it dries some and then pile it up. Then you should turn it every week if possible to oxygenate keeping it damp but not drenched. When the earth worms arrive you know you've got a good mix.

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