Well Gnome Composting Problems and …

A Guy Called Bloke Feature Doin the Dirt JPEG

Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20

Doin The Dirt Directory

Well Gnome Composting Problems and …

dragon

… what to do about them?

There are times when things don’t go according to plan with the composting – there are known [gnome] problems that may seem to be a nightmare, however because of the beauty of composting and what the whole subject matter contains as in waste and even more waste – there are remedies aplenty!

gnomesKloguttle and Dranklin – The Gnomes Who Like to Talk Dirt To Me!

[Not really them!]

Speaking to Klog and Dran the two resident gnomes in the garden .. no you haven’t seen them yet, because well, they are not really that much into the whole ‘social media’ presence and so they are pretty secretive – although they may make an appearance or two next year. Anyway, we only today were talking about Season 4’s Doin’ The Dirt … Eh – Gardening series – 366 Days of Gardening which begins on the 1st January 2020 and finishes on the 31st December 2020. Next year is a leap year … just in case you didn’t gnome that.

We have been discussing all the potential episodes and where we wish to take the garden next year, but that will be written about early next month. Today’s episode is about composting and the problems you might experience with your ‘piles’ – just reads wrong doesn’t it … more so if you have a mind like the Dirt Gnomes!

So, just some quick pointers that may assist you with your heap!

Most home grown organic piles of compost are never the same each year, and whilst the produce might look the same – they’ll not be. Every year a different mix is created to produce the black or brown gold. New composters sometimes find they experience problems with their first piles of compost and tend to worry if the end content result is ruined. It’s not – you just tweak it and maybe even leave it to form longer, but all problems can be remedied pretty quickly. Here are some of the more common problems experienced by and with composters and their compost.

Problem

Cause

Remedy

Unpleasant smells or odours

Lack of oxygen and too tightly compacted.

Fork the heap around to aerate the content and to regain balance and loosen up the content.

Unpleasant smells or odours

Pile too wet

Add materials such as cardboard scrunchies, hay, straw, leaves – basically carbon materials to soak up excess liquid and aerate pile.

Unpleasant smells or odours

Pile too acidic.

Most piles are slightly acidic anyway, but at times  an over abundance of wet components can make the compost become smelly and slower to decompose.

The addition of too much in the way of citrus fruit can also effect the acidic levels of the heap.

Add in browns [Carbons] and Greens [Nitrogens], fork to aerate and also it wouldn’t hurt to add some wood ash into the heap if you have it [woodfire ash not coalfire ash]

Unpleasant smells or odours … of rotten eggs or ammonia or are slimy.

Usually too wet, too many greens and not enough aeration.

Add more browns and stir content to aerate pile. Break up greens like lawn mowing clippings that have formed into slabs.

Pile too wet.

The result of too much additional water, too much citrus fruits or too much green, the result of an unbalanced pile and with poor drainage.

Dig out heap, aerate, balance pile up again with more air pockets [cardboard scrunchies, twigs] and add more Carbons [Browns] to regulate balance.

Sometimes a base layer of shredded paper, cardboard scrunchies and bracken or prunings will assist with drainage]

Clumping or slabbing in pile, slowing decomposition process.

Usually grass clippings and trimming/cuttings if not added initially to the pile in a spreading way, but are simply dumped  in will cause the pile to become slimy and cause a lack of aeration, as well creating huge slabs and clumps of slime.

To avoid soggy slabbing – sprinkle grass in and rake or turn into the pile with each layered addition.

Dealing with clumps and slabs – break grass into much smaller sections and fork into pile, cover with browns and greens, then add more of the seperated grass clippings.

Basically seperate the mat up and dig in.

Pile Too Dry

Compost not decomposing

Give the entire heap a thorough soaking down where possible using rainwater as this holds valuable microbes – if not possible then with the water hose and using ordinary water.

Best method is a large watering can with a sprinkler head failing that a sprinkler head on the hose and failing that using your thumb to cause the hose to spray.

Where possible try to avoid direct power force watering.

Problem

Cause

Remedy

Pile not heating Various reasons – most notable – lack of balance, lack or air pockets, lack of aeration, too many carbons or dry content,  pile too dry, perhaps insuffient activator presence for microbe activity to kick start.

Compost may have already heated and is cooling down …

During the summer/hotter months a pile can lose a lot of its heat if the moisture has dried up.

Add more balance to the pile – be this more greens, kitchen waste, watering down.

Aerate and turn pile to allow more heating to commence on areas of the pile not decomposing.

Water pile down to moisten up the process again.

Human urine is a great activator and accelerator – so pee on your pile. Alternative to this is to add some rotted down manure and water down.

Equally what works as a supreme activator is a spadeful of your garden’s soil – this will introduce the required microbes to your compost heap.

Pile not heating Lack of nitrogen Pile is too densely packed and compacted – turn pile with fork to aerate and add air pockets and moisture.
Pile not heating Pile too small The ideal size of a pile is 3 feet by 3 feet x 3 feet minimum with a maximum of five feet by five feet by five feet – rebuild heap by adding more materials and allowing to start process.

Problem

Cause

Remedy

Pile is only warm in centre Pile too small Add more content to increase overall heap sizet, water down and reboot.
End content is not fine enough Compost can become too ragged or coarse if content additions are not small enough to begin with. When building pile and adding content to heap, ensure all additions are broken down and/or shredded – basically smaller items decompose and degrade much quicker than larger items.

Turn pile and leave for longer.

Basically the compost heap needs certain ingredients to start the process ….  it needs to be a decent size [min 3x3x3], it needs to have oxygen as in air [pockets] to feed it as well as carbons [browns] and nitrogens [greens] and moisture as in water and then it will attract microorganisms and macroorganisms who will  kick start it and continue to work at it until the job is done.

Once the heap starts to degrade down, you can assist the process by adding materials and turning the pile – there are two main methods to composting – one is to cold compost it – it will degrade down just not that fast and the cold compost pile doesn’t need as much attention to it as long as it is reasonably balanced.

The second method is hot composting where upon you are deliberately working the pile in such a way that the composting, decompostion and degrading process is sped up through heat.

Some videos to help you along.

Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now

Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …

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4 thoughts on “Well Gnome Composting Problems and …

  1. I know jack-all about composting but I adore garden gnomes – actually I kinda like all kitschy garden decorations – we rented a house for a number of years and I put pink flamingo lawn ornaments all over the place! (We were living in Northern Virginia at the time – not a pink flamingo sort of place.)

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