Help required with compost

The compost in my bin (plastic with lid) has become very wet & a bit smelly. I wonder if shredded paper would improve it. Does anyone know?

1 Like

Yes it will. Too much green stuff (Nitrogen) will make the compost wet and then smelly. Need to balance the green with the brown (carbon element) for good compost. Browns include shredded paper or cardboard, dry leaves, spent compost etc.

2 Likes

Thanks, Mike, I’ll give that a go. I put the last of the ash from my wood burner in the compost today, read somewhere that that helps

Put in as much cardboard as you can. It works for me even when I just lie big slabs of it fro boxes on top like a lid and then more stuff on top. I don’t tear or shred it, just stuff it in. Good luck, I’m sure that will help.

2 Likes

Thank you, Julie, will give that a go.

And regular turning will help—I’ve heard that it should be a couple of times a week but TBH I only manage a couple of times a month!

2 Likes

Thank you. Yes, I have heard that. It’s a bit solid at the moment :rofl:. Hopefully it will loosen up so I will be able to try that.

I don’t think it’s necessary to worry too much about the exact ratio’s, but I found this table handy to get a rough idea of what to add when things are out of balance. https://www.planetnatural.com/composting-101/making/c-n-ratio/

Organic material will compost in the end. It’s just what nature wants to do. So there’s no need to worry too much about any of it. But we often like it to happen in a speedy fashion and without things turning too smelly, etc. So if you’re interested in a few more details, as far as my knowledge goes the process in a compost pile is this: nitrogen is getting turned into compost, but micro-organisms need the carbon as energy in order to do that. This means that any improvement in the ratio between carbon and nitrogen will speed up the process and make the best use of the organic material. 3 carbon for 1 nitrogen is the given rule of thumb.
Too much nitrogen/too little cabon: without energy (carbon), the nitrogen won’t be turned into compost. And will lie there and turn into ammonia (hence the smell).
Too much carbon/too little nitrogen: There’s enough energy (carbon), but not enough material (nitrogen) to do anything with. It will not get hot enough. Compost process will slow down, but will still work.
Turning material is not necessarily needed, but it will speed up the process. I don’t know anyone who’s turning it twice a week! Sounds like a lot of work. But I guess the compost would be ready very quickly!

1 Like

Thank you, Saskia, for that very comprehensive reply. Really useful. I managed to get my lockdown brain out of storage and will try and work on improving the balance.

1 Like