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Troubleshooting the Compost Pile

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The Compost pile - Composting is a great way for gardeners to make their own soil additives and save money at the same time. Using your own compost can increase your harvest immensely. It can also cut down on disease in your gardens.

It is simple to compost and the benefits are immense. People often complain that they have to bring their materials out to the compost bin. However, they would need to walk the waste out to the trash can anyway! For many gardeners, compost piles are a necessity. Home compost assures the gardener that nothing has been added into their soil additive that they don’t want in their growing areas.
The Compost pile
The Compost pile
With a little bit of effort, your compost will make your garden incredible. If your pile isn’t yielding lush compost, see below for some common composting errors.
Oh! Can You Smell That Smell?

Compost piles should not be malodorous. If there is a stench emanating from the area, Houston, there is a problem. Many composters complain that their pile smells like rotten eggs. This is never a good sign. When this smell occurs, it means that the pile is being compressed and lacks proper circulation. Simply adding wood chips to the compost and turning it over with a shovel should do the trick.

Ammonia smells coming from the compost means that there is too much green matter in the bin. You can fix this by adding dead materials such as leaves, broken up branches or wood chips. Mix the compost with the brown material and the odor should clear up in a day or two.
Nothing’s Happening

If your compost pile is not degrading, something is wrong. Look carefully into the bin. If it is dry, you may need to add some water and turn the material to get it damp. Too much brown material can also impede composting. Adding green matter such as grass clippings, fruit or veggie scraps, coffee filters with the grounds, teabags, eggshells or the manure from herbivores and then giving the pile a good turning should help improve development.

Proper aeration of the compost is necessary for the matter to decompose properly and without odor. Turning the pile over frequently is an important part of the composting process.
The Edges Don’t Change

When the center of the pile seems to have changed but the edges do not, you need to start working. The outer edges can become dry and if that happens it means the pile requires moisture. Adding water and mixing it up will enhance decomposition. Be sure to do this regularly.
Pesky Pest Invasion

It is important to bury all food scraps in the middle of the compost pile. This will deter rodents. If you are having a problem with critters or wasps invading your compost area, it usually means the matter is too dry. Add water every few days and mix up the compost. Pests do not like moist compost and will leave it alone.
Heat Things Up

The optimum temperature for a compost pile is 110 to 170 degrees. Without this intense heat, the weed and grass seeds will not be destroyed and will regrow in your garden. The pile stays warmer in the middle so regular turning is necessary for adequate results. Adding nitrogen such as coffee grinds will increase the heat throughout the pile and promote quicker decomposition.

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