Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Does Your Compost Stink?

I noticed I white mushrooms growing in my homemade compost bin I made out of a Rubbermaid tub. I ran to the Internet to check if that was a good sign or not. The Gardenweb gurus said:
“It's a good sign that fungi have colonized the mix to the point where they are fruiting. That means that in addition to the materials you put in there, you now have miles of fungal mycelium, which has soil enrichment properties.”
“That being said, certain mushroom-producing fungi also have a particular affinity for carbon-rich materials, such as those used for ‘bedding’ in a worm bin – shredded cardboard, newsprint etc. Since worm composting systems are often rich in these sorts of materials, it’s not too surprising to see these fungal species briefly taking advantage of this resource.”
Apparently, shredding and adding all of my household paper waste to my compost bin for carbons must be working. In fact, there’s a name for such a practice - High fiber composting . (High fiber - Kinda like my diet, hee!)

The idea behind high fiber composting is that if you shred and compost all of your home’s household paper waste instead of recycling it, you should have more than enough carbons for your compost bin. Nice to know because I don’t have access to the usual carbon suspects - grass clippings, leaves, or tree clippings.

My compost bin

Since we had a bunch of rain, I figured it was time to mix up my very damp compost. I snapped the lid on the compost bin and flipped it couple of times in the yard. I smacked the bottom of the bin to loosen everything up for good measure. I took the lid off of the compost bin to see if I had actually mixed up the pile.

Phew! Did it stink! The smell reminded me of the latrines at Girl Scout camp –  the Junk Drawer described as a hole in a shed type of stinky outhouses. YUCK!

I shredded as much paper as I could find, held my nose, and dumped it in the stinky compost bin. I checked the internet again. Gardenweb said:
"Stinky compost pile? This is probably due to an overabundance of anaerobic microbes, enthusiastically breaking down your compost, but creating quite a funk in the process. To cut down on the smell, fluff the pile regularly, creating air spaces and limiting the anaerobic microbes while stimulating the less smelly aerobic microbes. “
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Does your compost bin ever stink? What do you do?

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