BobK
Full Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 1:54 am
Location: Belmont, MA, USA

Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Is there any way to make use of gooey compost from a poorly thought-out compost bin?

This year I tried using a steel garbage can, with lots of holes, as a composter for kitchen scraps (no meats, cheeses, etc!) This was so I could close the lid to keep the varmints out. It did a great job of keeping out the varmints, but (as I now read elsewhere) all it produced was a half can of sludge.

I have another conventional bin for leaves (mostly) and assorted garden waste - could I mix it in with that and get something useful?

Or is there any other way to make use of that sludge?

Thanks

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27726
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Yep. It sounds like you didn't add enough (any?) "BROWNS" -- leaves, paper, etc. -- with your "GREENS".

If your other bin is working well, I wouldn't ruin that pile by unbalancing with the "sludge" -- your drum might still work if you simply dumped the sludge, blend well with about twice as much new fall leaves or shredded cardboard and other paper, then put back in the drum. (...unless you wanted to start again with fresh material in the drum -- in which case, pay more attention to combining the two types)

Look in the sticky thread at the top of this forum for list of browns.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

I agree, too much nitrogen and not enough carbon. Except for the meat, those things I rather feed to the worms. Not a good idea to add that mess to the compost pile especially if you have meat scraps in it since it will attract more vermin.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Sludge, I like that word. But yes it can go into a bin of (browns) yard waste and get turn in. It will make fine compost. No more than about one part sludge to three parts yard waste...
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

User avatar
ID jit
Green Thumb
Posts: 340
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:00 pm
Location: SE New England: zone twilight or 5b... hard for me to tell some days.

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Am new here, cannot think inside the box and have no chance of coloring inside the lines. I came here recently to be schooled, and the people who posted above are the ones have gen kind enough to teaching me.

Face with the problem of a half a trash can of "greens" sludge which probably has a glorious aroma, I would just start physically forcing dry "browns" into the trash can until mixture became semi-solid at minimum. I would probably go with a 50% of paper/cardboard and 50% high lignin stuff like leaves, bark mulch and woody stuff.

Once I got it somewhere around 2-4 browns to 1 Green (or dry enough to deal with), I would add it in as I turned my compost piles - several inches of active, then add a thing layer of the dried up sludge over half of the layer of active compost, then another layer of the active compost and another thin layer of dried up sludge.... goal with be to disperse it as evenly as I could through my active pile. Then turn again in a couple of days.

Paper has a huge amount of carbon, which is what you need, but in the end doesn't produce a lot of solid matter. Paper is mostly cellulose which breaks down into starches -> sugars -> simple sugars and is mostly consumed by the microbes.

The woody stuff, bark, etc. (high lignin content), takes a lot longer to break down and produces a lot more solid matter at the end of the process, which is what we want.

So, If I had a half a trash can of greens-sludge, I would be forcing ripped up newspaper into it feed the microbes and create heat, and forcing in an equal quantity of dry leave / bashed up bark mulch or other high lignin content stuff to get a decent amount of solid matter at the end.

May not be the best solution to the problem, but I would not have typed it out if I had any doubts about it working.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27726
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

I like the practicality (is that a word) of your thinking @ID jit Image

Yes. I could see the process you described working with good results.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Agreed. Rebalance and dry it out, then incorporate it into the other pile.

Next time, have a bin of leaves or other browns handy to layer with those kitchen scraps. And if you have two piles or bins, put all your new stuff into one, when full turn it over into the other and start fresh in the first one. That way you have a batch finishing and a place to put new stuff. You can always store browns (not greens) so they are handy to layer with any greens that come along.
Tox

User avatar
ID jit
Green Thumb
Posts: 340
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:00 pm
Location: SE New England: zone twilight or 5b... hard for me to tell some days.

Re: Salvage Gooey Compost Mess?

Something which may help with your kitchen scrap greens.

Kitchen scrape greens are about my only source of greens now. What I have been doing is spreading them out on a flat section on the right side of my active compost pile and covering them with broken up twigs, sticks, bark, etc and then covering that with some active compost from the left side of the pile so I have a flat space for the next couple days of greens. When the pile creeps to far to the right, I turn it over back to the left and start over again.

Works for me because I live next to a twig, stick and branch factory. Have a full compliment of New England creatures in the woods and no issues with creatures in my compost, sans the occasional filed mouse after bread of all things. I won't disturb the leaf litter nor the plants nor the partly decomposed fallen trees, but have no issue about decreasing the fuel load of dead branches, trees and scrub which is on the ground and just waiting for an ignition source.

I also had good luck with my "lazy worm farm". Drilled a bunch if 1/4" or 3/8" holes in th bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and buried it up to the top in on of my compost piles. Put in a good layer of mulchy compost then some coffee grounds banana peels and random other stuff and covered it with a couple inches of mulchy compost. Recruited a bunch of red wiggler volunteers out of my compost pile and threw them in. The worms stay in the bucket because they have easy access to good food in a temperature and moister stable environment. The worms can enter and leave as the see fit, so I don't have to worry about the smell from over feeding, under feeding nor moisture control. Ended up with a nice bucket full of vermicast/humus for little to no effort/expense. Planning on doing 3 more this spring.

Brought the bucket and what ever worms were still in it into the basement for the winter. Smells like you just rolled over a moss covered log on a rainy spring day. Have some coffee grounds and a baked potato skins about 3" below the surface and bunches of little tiny worms.

It is "warm" composting at best, but it does work. I general build square-based pyramids 4' x 4' x 4'. Is a lot easier than trying to free hand stack a cube.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

Return to “Composting Forum”