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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Post  WardinWake 2/1/2011, 4:36 pm

Howdy Composters:

Today my son and I work Bin number one of our 4 bin system into the empty bin number two and found - YUCK - affraid that it smelled bad enough to burn the nose of a skunk. So what's in it to smell bad? Well it has goat manure - nope that was not it, horse manure - again not the problem, spent hay - not the problem, various types of leaves - not the problem and Coffee Ground/kitchen wastes - not a problem. So was it a combinations of all the above? Nope. It was to much moisture. Just as a swamp developes a stink, so will compost that is to wet. It just sours. And manures really stink when they sour. The cure? Drying the compost by spreading it out is one option, another is adding dry ingreidents and mixing with the existing mix (don't have any dry on hand) or we can just wait a week or so and see if the excess moisture will flow out on its own. Because we just turned it today I think we will wait and see what it looks like in about a week.

God Bless, Ward, Mary and Timothy the compost turner.
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Post  martha 2/2/2011, 11:57 pm

I had some very stinky compost last year. I spread it out and put dirt over it, and have been afraid to check it out since then!
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Post  CarolynPhillips 2/3/2011, 12:24 am

Do you not cover your compost pile?
I always covered mine. I was told to cover it because when it rains on the compost pile, it leaches out all the nutrients and nitrogen. I also kept my compost pile on pallets so that any excess moisture would drip out and it would also get air flow under the pile. But I guess there are many ways to set up a compost pile. this is just the way I did mine.
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Post  WardinWake 2/3/2011, 4:09 pm

CarolynPhillips wrote:Do you not cover your compost pile?
I always covered mine. I was told to cover it because when it rains on the compost pile, it leaches out all the nutrients and nitrogen. I also kept my compost pile on pallets so that any excess moisture would drip out and it would also get air flow under the pile. But I guess there are many ways to set up a compost pile. this is just the way I did mine.

Carolyn:

So far this is the only bin that has soured. All are the same size and are uncovered. When we had a covered bin it would dry out (very dry last year with little rain) and would stop producing heat. I have also used a drip hose to add moisture when needed. If heavy rains are coming I can put a tarp over the bins. Thanks for the ideas.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 2/3/2011, 9:06 pm

So, now I have to ask the question. From what I know from here, the reason we don't put meat-eater's manure in compost is the stink. Well, if it gets too wet and still stinks, what the heck do we care anymore? I still don't understand the wanting to garden sans smells. Gardening has always been dirty...I just don't get the prissy, prima donna stuff with dirt.

Someone set me straight please.
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Post  boffer 2/3/2011, 9:14 pm

No expert here. It's my understanding that we want to avoid the pathogens in meat eaters' manure, not the odor.

A smelly compost pile indicates that it's not decomposing as quickly as possible because the right environment hasn't been created with regard to content, air, and moisture. Everything will decompose sooner or later. For gardening purposes, sooner is better.



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Post  Icemaiden 2/4/2011, 11:16 am

BackyardBirdGardner wrote: I still don't understand the wanting to garden sans smells. Gardening has always been dirty...I just don't get the prissy, prima donna stuff with dirt.

Someone set me straight please.

I don't mind a bit of a smell but my compost bin is only 5 yards from the (open) bathroom window, and 10 yards from my neighbour's balcony so I don't think I would be too popular if it gets really stinky or attracts a lot of flies Laughing
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Post  LaFee 2/4/2011, 11:26 am

BBG, I'm guessing you feel that way because you've never been downwind of a sour compost heap.

There are *good* garden smells, and there are Oh, geez, where's my gas mask gardening smells -- and unhealthy compost is definitely one of the latter.
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Post  martha 2/4/2011, 12:44 pm

Boffer, can you get us a gas-mask emoticon? Admittedly, we would all hope not to have to use it!
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 2/4/2011, 5:16 pm

Nope....never downwind....mine has always been well away from my house and others'. However, I do cut grass for a living and know how the fresh cut smell of grass turns ugly in hours when put in the paper lawn/leaf bags. Whoa that will ruin anyone's day. But, if it's far enough away from anyone, it doesn't make much of a diff.

Glad to know we are just trying to optimize the decomposition instead of trying to avoid odor.

However, pathogens? I need some clarification here....maybe in another thread? I don't want to hijack this any more than I have.
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Post  LaFee 2/4/2011, 5:26 pm

truly sour compost will make you yearn for funky decaying grass.

Carnivores carry pathogens in their waste products that you don't dare introduce into your compost pile...e. coli is one of the better-known ones.

So no dog, cat, ferret, or other meat-eater poo in your compost...stick to waste products from the ones that are strictly vegetarian -- rabbits, chickens, horses, and cows.
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Post  camprn 2/4/2011, 11:11 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:
Glad to know we are just trying to optimize the decomposition instead of trying to avoid odor.

However, pathogens? I need some clarification here....maybe in another thread? I don't want to hijack this any more than I have.
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Post  walshevak 2/5/2011, 9:38 am

Yikes!!! I bought bags of swine compost to put in my MM along with cow, chicken and mushroom. I wonder how safe it is. I haven't mixed it up yet. Wonder if I should pitch it.

Kay
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Post  camprn 2/5/2011, 9:55 am

walshevak wrote:Yikes!!! I bought bags of swine compost to put in my MM along with cow, chicken and mushroom. I wonder how safe it is. I haven't mixed it up yet. Wonder if I should pitch it.

Kay
Does it say 'pasteurized' on the bag?
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Post  Old Hippie 2/5/2011, 8:47 pm

If it doesn't say pasteurized on the bag, you could just use it for flowers and shrubs and not for your vegetable garden to be on the safe side. That is what I would do. Seems a shame to just throw it away.

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Post  walshevak 2/7/2011, 1:33 pm

I checked the bag of composted pig poop and can't find anything about pasturized, but it does say recommended for vegetable and raised bed gardening. There is supposed to be a web site at www.pigapproved.com, but nothing comes up when I try it. I checked back with the store where I bought it and they say is used a lot on vegetable gardens in the area. I also checked with the County Extension Agent and he said that it should be safe because it was composted and bagged. Dr.Campbell's Green Magic. Made from the finest NC pig poop.

And yes I can always "pitch" it into the flower beds.

Kay
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Post  Catalytic 2/21/2011, 6:14 am

LaFee wrote:truly sour compost will make you yearn for funky decaying grass.

Carnivores carry pathogens in their waste products that you don't dare introduce into your compost pile...e. coli is one of the better-known ones.

So no dog, cat, ferret, or other meat-eater poo in your compost...stick to waste products from the ones that are strictly vegetarian -- rabbits, chickens, horses, and cows.

Chickens aren't vegetarian, not even close. Even if they aren't intentionally fed meat, they eat bugs and worms and such from the ground. And regardless of what they are fed, according to my state lab, they have e coli in their intestines. (I have 2 in for necropsies right now, and one had e coli in its lungs, so this was recently explained to me)

As for the pig manure...many people use their pigs to till the garden at the end of the season. A place producing commercial pig manure has likely fed a corn-based diet, I know the pig food I buy from the mill doesn't have any meat in it, but I toss lots of leftovers, including meat, to our pigs and chickens. They also root around and eat grubs and such, if they aren't raised on concrete.

Raising Organic Hogs by the Tractor Method at the very bottom of this article, pathogens in the manure are addressed.
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