Problems with composting

A little background, I live in a housing coop and there is a number of us that share and contribute to a composting system. The other day I noticed that it was a little smelly so I decided to do something about it. Upon taking it apart I noticed the smell, the smell of a failed compost. I have some experience with failed compost, and this is the a good reason why you just can’t through veggie scraps into a bin and hope for the best.

Organic life needs carbon and nitrogen

The issue is carbon matter, or lack of it in this case. When a decaying pile of matter is too high in nitrogen, a bad smell arrises (ammonia). This is a clear indication that you need to add some carbon to your pile. The reason is because bacteria grows best when there is 25 times carbon then nitrogen, and when there is too much nitrogen, the pile will let you know by giving off an awful smell.

Add more carbon

Carbon must be added. Adding carbon will give the composting creating bacteria the right ratio of building blocks to do their work. Now the question arrives, what do you add.

Composting 101 has a handy chart of the CN ratio of commonly found materials that are perfect for the compost bin. Now we just have to add it at the right time to make sure that it works right.

Adding carbon every time you add kitchen waste

I really feel that the ideal solution is to have a bin of high carbon material beside the compost bin. Every time someone adds to the bin, sprinkle the high carbon material on top to cover the kitchen waste. I am hoping that this will keep the compost pile in check.

Icon from The Noun Project.