Monday, April 22, 2013

how [not] to compost

A few months ago, with a little bit of advice from Dweej, I ventured into the composting world.
I was so excited.
I told anyone who would listen.
Well, I think I did something wrong.

Let me walk you through this.....
Since moving into this house in August, I've had an inclination to do more homey things.
In January, I went and got myself a Rubbermaid bin, threw some leaves in the bottom (we were in a short period of no snow), put the bin on my back porch, aaaand....that was it.

So there it sat. On my back porch. For 3 months.
I added tons and tons and tons of veggie and other kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy). Stirred occasionally.
And all seemed to be fine.
I mean, it was cold for much of that time, what with the snow and ice and all....

And then it started getting warmer...

*disclaimer: sick nasty photos ahead*

I was getting ready to leave for Portland the first week of March and I realized before I left that I should empty the overflowing bucket we kept in the pantry for the compost pile. While I'm pretty sure all of my roommates knew where the bin was, I was the only one who ever emptied the kitchen bucket.
No big deal, it was my project anyway.

So I went out onto our porch and when I opened the bin, oh. my. gosh. The most disgusting smell EVER.
I quickly dumped the kitchen bucket into the bin and there was so much food in the bucket, it was packed solid...and moldy. Sick. nasty.

seemingly harmless-looking bin, right?

Needless to say, I didn't return the bucket to the kitchen because I didn't want anyone to continue this horrible cycle while I was gone for 5 weeks. I also moved the bin off the porch and let it sit in the back yard while I was gone in case someone had the inclination to drop scraps straight into the bin.

When I finally returned from my trip, I borrowed a shovel from a friend and dug a hole where our landlords used to have a compost pile and proceeded to distribute my "compost" into the hole.

the hole

sick. nasty.

after the deed had been done.

sludge. cue gagging.
So my question is this: did I compost wrong? I know online there are a million and one products you can buy to start your compost bin (one of my coworkers apparently has bought a bin and "organic soil" for his bin...what the hey?!) but there was no way I was going to do that. Part of me wonders if maybe I did it right, and compost is supposed to smell like the worst thing you've ever smelled in your life (even worse than the most horrific baby diarrhea). But maybe all I did wrong was add too much moisture, or not let it ventilate enough, or not add enough yard waste.

At the end of the day, I'll be living in an apartment starting in August so I [obviously] won't be having a compost bin. Gross. But maybe there's something that I missed during this process? At least in the future I'd like to try again!

Please. Advice. Anyone?

xo, Morgan


  1. Did you drill holes in the bottom? It's needed to let excess moisture out and to let all those little hardworking bugs in. Also, it's adviced to cover the compost heap (you don't have too), but to always leave it a crack open. Compost needs air, crawlers and heat!

    1. nope...definitely did not. It was winter, so I didn't think I needed to, and also since it was on my porch, I didn't want everything leaking :/

    2. Lol! There's your answer ... :-)

  2. Lord of mercy. Glad I didn't try this...I really would be hurling.

    I'm following along..hope you get answers.

    1. It. was. sick.
      I have a pretty strong stomach, but this just about did me in.

  3. Ha... wow. We composted in Honduras, but we had no other choice. Basically we just threw the kitchen stuff into the stream type thing next to our house, and that was that. We also had dogs that would come and eat it... so , I suppose it never really had time to actually do what it's supposed to do. Ugh. Good luck!!

  4. BLEH!!! Yep, air circulation and worms and bugs are your friend in a compost. My strong stomach is quivering...truly.disgusting.


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