Composting Mistake: Too Many Greens

Posted on May 7 2009 - 1:50pm by Mike Lieberman

On Tuesday when I turned the compost all was well and there was no smell. Two days later not so much. It stank and it stank bad.

The batteries on my video camera died, so there is no video, but that has nothing to do with the smell. I had a feeling that the last pile of composting greens were too much. Just got too over zealous.

Instead of scrapping the bin all together, I am attempting to remedy the situation. The bin was leaking through the holes in the bottom and the smell was awful.

My plan was to remove a lot of what was in the bin and replace it with browns to soak up the moisture and get rid of the smell. I shoveled the existing compost into two of the buckets and mixed them around. It was packed pretty tight in there and took about 20 minutes to get all of the stank compost out.

Once I got it all out and separated into three buckets, I mixed them around much like would be done in an outdoor composting bin. A fresh bed of newspaper shreds and soil was layered on the bottom, topped with a small layer of the existing compost.

Did this for about three or four layers. I wound up taking about two full three gallon garbage bags out of my compost bin and brought it to my local composting garden.

I’ll give this a few days to see if that awful smell subsides. Another lesson learned, don’t put too much food into the compost bin. Especially when that bin is in your kitchen. Have I mentioned the smell?

  • Tito

    Im sure your roomate loved you for that.

  • Mike Lieberman

    He was cool with it and also glad when it was gone. Imagine what it would've been like if that were at my 'rents place.

  • http://www.tweepleontwitter.com/ Jason

    hahhh! yeah, my piles are krazy rank sometimes and get huge shrooms on them…

    if only i could identify them ;p

  • http://oregonstate.edu/~mcqueenj John

    I think it gets stinky because it goes anaerobic, meaning no oxygen. When that happens some different soil bugs take over and they put out some foul smelling gases. Having oxygen is key to this operation so mixing and making sure it has proper bulk might help, also not too much water. Good luck!

  • annekat

    Adding lime (not the fruit) to your compost will help neutralize the smell. You can purchase finely round lime from garden and agriculture suppliers, when compost starts to stank mixing this powder in will definitely help.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. Luckily, I haven't had that stink come back, but if it does, I'll definitely do this.

  • annekat

    Adding lime (not the fruit) to your compost will help neutralize the smell. You can purchase finely round lime from garden and agriculture suppliers, when compost starts to stank mixing this powder in will definitely help.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. Luckily, I haven't had that stink come back, but if it does, I'll definitely do this.

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  • http://greenearthbazaar.com Michelle

    We’re fortunate to compost outside away from the house so we don’t have any odor problems. We just chuck everything into the ground and mix it into the existing soil in our designated composting area. It’s been working well for us. ;)

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Rub it in Michelle. Rub it in.

  • Cara Hugo Meintjes

    Hey Mike, I see these comments are a few years old. How did it go after this? I’d like to try this too, maybe secretly so my housemates don’t freak out…