Author Topic: Help - my compost is slimy!  (Read 7089 times)

fiddlefaddle

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Help - my compost is slimy!
« on: March 22, 2015, 07:37:13 PM »
One of my goals for the year was to start composting. I have a tumbler-type composter and filled one side with kitchen scraps and leaves over the first couple months of the year.

It's been looking worse and worse and I investigated this weekend and it's a gross, slimy mess. It smells like rotten mud.

I did some searching and saw lots of suggestions, but no real consensus on how to fix the problem. How can I get my compost back on track? And any thoughts on how to avoid this issue on my next try? Thanks!


deborah

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 07:56:23 PM »
You need to have a good ratio between NITROGEN - kitchen scraps (which tend to have a lot of water and nutrients), new grass clippings and CARBON - dead brittle stuff (autumn leaves, saw dust (but not from treated wood), shredded newspaper, cut up prunings from your trees and shrubs...). You don't have enough of the CARBON - dead brittle stuff. I'm sure you can find some around - you might even have some in your recycling bin.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2015, 08:02:36 PM »
More browns.

I put a metric ton of shredded office paper in mine.

fiddlefaddle

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 08:11:32 PM »
I thought I was being equal between greens and browns, but I had a hard time finding enough brown in the dead of winter and probably got out of balance.

I didn't know shredded paper counted as browns - that gives me a perfect source! Thanks for the tips. I'm going to empty out the shredder bin tomorrow!

MayDay

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2015, 05:45:33 AM »
If you plan ahead you can use leaves- just save them in the fall.

Paper works well, but if its too wet, consider leaving the top off if it's a dry day, to allow for more evaporation.

I've been composting a long time. My bin used to be under a huge tree that was always delivering leaves directly into the compost. I didn't appreciate that until I moved, now I have to collect and save leaves, shred kids school papers, etc!

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 08:31:58 AM »
I thought I was being equal between greens and browns, but I had a hard time finding enough brown in the dead of winter and probably got out of balance.

Mine is closer to 5:1 Browns:Greens. With too much brown, you run the risk of getting too dry. But wetting it down is easier than drying it out. I spray it with water from the hose every time I add a sack of paper from the shredder.

Overall, the excess paper probably doesn't generate the most rich compost, but it decomposes nicely.


deborah

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 08:38:53 AM »
The only thing more browns (carbon) is that the compost takes longer to break down, but a tumbler can easily be churned (takes a shorter time to break down), and shredded paper is smaller (also takes a shorter time to break down).

Bob W

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 09:10:58 AM »
Have you used a compost thermometer.  Compost is really an art and there are many good sites that specialize in this.  The brown to green ratio is important.   

fiddlefaddle

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 09:36:43 AM »
I normally research things thoroughly before I start, but with composting, I just read through the guide that came with the composter and started throwing stuff in. I was actually sort of proud of myself for not over-analyzing it. Now I'm remembering why I like to read and research before starting something new...

Paper works well, but if its too wet, consider leaving the top off if it's a dry day, to allow for more evaporation.

I'm going to add paper, but may also leave it open to dry out a little more.

Mine is closer to 5:1 Browns:Greens.

Wow! My little guide said 2:1 Greens:Browns. But I'm learning that I'd prefer dry to overly wet.

Have you used a compost thermometer.

I didn't know there was such a thing. I don't really want to buy compost equipment, but may consider it if I can't get this hang of it.

Thanks for all the ideas!

FLBiker

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 10:04:12 AM »
Using paper for browns is a great idea, but stay away from anything glossy.

MayDay

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2015, 10:12:44 AM »
Paper has more carbon than, say, dead leaves, so you don't need as much paper as you do leaves.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2015, 10:35:21 AM »
To give you another angle to consider: those tumblers suck ass.  I've composted before and someone bought me one of those black tumbler things.  I could never get it to not be gross sludge.  I bought a bale of straw and added that when I added other things.  That helped but it was never exciting compost I wanted to put my hands into like you get by just having a pile on the ground.

Get rid of it and just build an enclosed area w/ 4x4s and chicken wire.

Catbert

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2015, 11:04:30 AM »
For the future get bags of used coffee grounds from Starbucks or your local coffee shop.  Coffee grounds are almost the perfect balance of nitrogen and carbon so they make up for other imbalances.

deborah

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2015, 02:05:49 PM »
Compost thermometers - what will they think of next! I don't know anyone who has ever used one.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2015, 03:04:00 PM »
Mine is closer to 5:1 Browns:Greens.

Wow! My little guide said 2:1 Greens:Browns. But I'm learning that I'd prefer dry to overly wet.

Yeah, I doubt that 5:1 is guide-worthy. ;) But I have a lot of shredded office paper and very little patience for thinking about compost.

But it works out well. Generally what ends up happening is I have a layer (I don't tumble) about a foot deep of uncomposted shredded paper and random bits of food. Under that layer, the area becomes hotter and composty-er. Sometimes I mix it a little with a shovel. But I'm pretty lazy and weak, so my mixing is not very impressive.

Somehow... compost is formed.

worms

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2015, 01:26:35 AM »
I sometimes find that the kitchen scraps make the compost too acidic and it starts to smell.   A handful of lime quickly returns it to good health. I use hydrated lime that I have for making lime-wash, but the lime sold in the garden centres would do just as well.

deborah

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2015, 01:34:40 AM »
I sometimes find that the kitchen scraps make the compost too acidic and it starts to smell.   A handful of lime quickly returns it to good health. I use hydrated lime that I have for making lime-wash, but the lime sold in the garden centres would do just as well.
Yes - I put in a handful of lime each time I add kitchen stuff, and a handful of manure each time I add dead stuff.

worms

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2015, 02:01:56 AM »
I sometimes find that the kitchen scraps make the compost too acidic and it starts to smell.   A handful of lime quickly returns it to good health. I use hydrated lime that I have for making lime-wash, but the lime sold in the garden centres would do just as well.
Yes - I put in a handful of lime each time I add kitchen stuff, and a handful of manure each time I add dead stuff.
I pee on the dead stuff...but that is possibly easier for me than Deborah!

deborah

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2015, 02:03:20 AM »
Ah, but manure has better composition for compost.

fiddlefaddle

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2015, 06:35:26 AM »
I added some shredded paper last night. Hopefully it will start drying out!

To give you another angle to consider: those tumblers suck ass.  I've composted before and someone bought me one of those black tumbler things.  I could never get it to not be gross sludge.  I bought a bale of straw and added that when I added other things.  That helped but it was never exciting compost I wanted to put my hands into like you get by just having a pile on the ground.

Get rid of it and just build an enclosed area w/ 4x4s and chicken wire.

This makes me really sad. I want to like my tumbler! But thanks for the tip - I'll definitely keep this in mind.

I'll also get some lime to help with the smell.

I pee on the dead stuff...but that is possibly easier for me than Deborah!

Since I'm female and have a tumbler, that would definitely be a challenge! But thanks for the laugh as I tried to picture it.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Help - my compost is slimy!
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2015, 09:45:35 AM »
Like a log roll competition.  In either one, if you screw up, you're getting wet.