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Moonshadow
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If I start my pile wrong, is it salvageable?

I've committed several sins in starting my new pile.

At my mom's house, I had an open pile, but now that I'm renting, I thought it would be better to have it contained and covered (my landlord lives just across the driveway). I picked up a cheap garbage can and started throwing stuff in there.

My sins:
- no ventilation (at all; kept the lid on)
- did not add any brown material
- added meat, dairy, and cooked items
- haven't stirred it once


I can't remember how soon after moving in we started the bin, but it's well over six months. I drilled some holes in the bottom to start letting it drain, but do I need to throw out the whole bin and start fresh? Or can I dump it out (gag! it's pretty rank due to lack of ventilation), drill some ventilation holes up the sides of the can, and put it back in with layers of brown material?

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rainbowgardener
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You are right about all the things you listed as mistakes. And unfortunately I agree with MG about pitch it and start over. Most of the other mistakes could well be salvageable, but putting meat in there makes it sort of over the top. Rotten meat is not only very nasty, but could have some nasty toxins.

I do put small amounts of dairy in my compost, well mixed with lots of other green and brown ingredients and don't seem to have much trouble with that. I wouldn't overload it though.
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treehopper
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I'd bury it....DEEP!!!
I started a compost pile, because I gardened. Now I find myself gardening, so I have someplace for my compost!!

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Moonshadow
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3-0. Guess I've got to go dig a grave this evening.

tomc
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Your problem is anoxia. If you poured your barrel of grave-gravy into a pallet-sided compost bin and added twice its volume of browns, it would make a good start for a compost.

Next time dump the barrel when it is less full.
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toxcrusadr
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I agree with burial, it still has a lot of good nutrients in it.

Meat and dairy will smell bad, but they are full of nitrogen. I can't really think what kind of 'toxins' you're referring to, rainbow, unless you mean bacteria.

Something like this could be salvaged, layered between dry browns, and eventually it would make compost, but due to the gooey nasty stench, I like the burial option.
Tox

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Moonshadow
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So... 3-2 now. Hmmm. If the stench is the main problem with trying to fix it, I can deal with that. I work in a produce warehouse and I've smelled some pretty nasty stuff. (A room full of rotten watermelons is no joke!)


Burying it won't do me any good nutrient-wise, since I'm going to be planting in containers.

tomc
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I garden in pretty suburban plots. The usual pest over the past 40 years has been one of more neighboring dogs.

A holding can (like what you're using) lets stuff putrify and make the compost bin unpaliatable to Fido.

Layered in with some browns (yard waste) its worked for me.

If it was alive, it will rot.
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rainbowgardener
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Starts with bacteria, but the bacteria exude toxins. Botulism for example is not an infectious disease caused by a bacterium. Botulinum toxin is a protein and neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is our body's reaction to that toxin, long after the bacteria are gone.
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rot
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I'm with TomC

..
I'm with tomc. Put it in a bigger bin open on the bottom to the ground and smother it with a mix rich in browns.

I like the Pallet bin approach personally. Spread a thick layer of browns on the bottom. Stick Experiment 1 in the middle. Surround it and then cover with fresh feed stocks of browns mixed with greens. Add water. Extra points for turning after a month or so and covering again or just keep adding water for another 6 months.

Not a major disaster. With the meat and dairy you just want to keep that thoroughly, deeply covered. I avoid that stuff myself because then I have to manage it more carefully to keep the smells and the vermin away.

Good information in the link here. I refer back to it myself every so often.
https://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/

Watch what happens as time goes by and adjust things then.

to sense
..

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!potatoes!
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i vote for layering w/ lots of absorbent browns in something big enough, yet air-accessible.

the only penance one must do to atone for the sin of a big bucket of anoxic stink is having to deal with it. you may not smell good, but you'll be gardening-pure when you're done.

re: botulism, etc - please don't eat your unfinished compost, otherwise you should be okay. :wink: i agree the biggest risk in using meat or dairy scraps in compost is pests (dogs, rats, raccoon, etc) making a mess.

tomc
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!potatoes! wrote:re: botulism, etc - please don't eat your unfinished compost, otherwise you should be okay. :wink: i agree the biggest risk in using meat or dairy scraps in compost is pests (dogs, rats, raccoon, etc) making a mess.
Thank you potatoes. people have been hunting this particular unicorn since at least the middle nineties.

Your responce is the most temperant I have seen.

Again thank you.
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Moonshadow
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Well, I dumped it all out on Saturday and put it back in with layers of browns. The yard STILL stinks!

I started to drill the ventilation holes, but my BF's drill batteries aren't holding charge for some reason. I got a few in before it pooped out.

toxcrusadr
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If you cover the pile with a thick layer of whatever browns you used, or any other non-putrified composting material, it will absorb some of the odor.

If those batteries sit a long time between uses, they can lose the ability to hold a charge, especially if they are the big heavy NiCd type. This is the worst thing about older battery powered tools - they are not good for people who don't use them often. The newer NiMH batteries won't do that, though. Battery technology has improved quite a bit.
Tox

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Moonshadow
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He uses (used) it often enough; he's an electrician's apprentice. :P I'm not sure how old this drill is, though. I asked him to borrow one from a coworker and bring it home today. We'll see if that actually happens! :roll:

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Moonshadow
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I'm happy to report that after dumping it all out, drilling 50+ holes in the side of the can, and layering it back in with brown matter, it's definitely looking like compost! I stirred it around yesterday and it smelled nice and earthy. :)

rot
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Tis' the season

..
Good to hear Moonshadow. I just came from shopping at the local bulk club and it's certainly the season for your recovery.

Everyone sing along: It's starting to look a lot like compost ...
..

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applestar
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Good for you! Your container garden children are going to be so happy.
-- joining the Compost Carolers. :()

toxcrusadr
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Woohoo! Disaster averted!
Tox

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