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Mar 17, 2011 09:12 AM

Can my compost be saved?

I should probably start by saying that the pile smells sweet and there are worms present.

Last summer had a compost tumbler going and it cranked out great compost but I quicky found that we had more material than it can handle. DH helped me build two stalls to hold piles instead. We've been adding to it all winter but with snow and rain it just stayed too wet. I've stopped adding greens to the pile and have been spending a considerable amount of time adding browns to try to sop up some of the moisture. We've since started a new pile in the second stall.

Is there any chance that the original pile will heat up and actually finish my compost? I was really hoping to use it this spring and summer.

Any suggestions as to what we should do next winter to avoid this problem?


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  1. have u only been adding food/kitchen waste to it?

    2 Replies
    1. re: srsone

      Kitchen waste, dried leaves, shredded paper, and torn up cardboard are the staples in the pile. I do think I started adding more kitchen waste than I could support with the carbons and that's what lead to this mess :(.

    2. Composting slows down in cold weather but will pick up once the weather warms up. You do need enough air in the mix to get aerobic decomposition going. Turning is key.

      No location is indicated in OP , but many areas in the midwest and northeast get enough rain and snow to over-water compost, particularly in the winter. Covering the bins helps control moisture level.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        Oh yeah, forgot to say where I live lol! I live in Nashville/ midTN.

        I've been turning about twice a week. This morning I spent the better part of an hour *fluffing* the pile with a pitchfork while tossing in some shredded paper ans cardboard.

        Yay! So glad there is hope!

      2. My first thought is that you need some nitrogen to restart the <heat> decomposition. Did a quick search and found this link. If wanting to stay organic, see the shaded boxes for options.

        But scroll close to the bottom to the heading: Diagnosing composting problems - the last paragraph talks about a "sweet" smelling compost pile and the need for nitrogen.

        1. Mix and wait. Aeration and time will work wonders.

          1. I just posted this reply in another compost related thread with some links. Hope these help.

            1st link is a review of various composting systems and how they work:

            2nd link is a Compost Troubleshooting Guide: