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trying to save my rotten bucket of compost  RSS feed

 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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To make a short story long, I got the bright idea of fermenting my food scraps before giving them to my worms, I had a winters worth of scraps and we make scraps sometimes faster than the worms can go through them and sometimes slower. I rigged up a food disposal plumbed into a 55 gallon drum and dumped some old ferments that I didn't like as well as a whole bunch of old fruit and veggie scraps and eggshells, (no onions meat breads pastas or anything like that). Figured I would have a buffer so I could stockpile food for them and when it got slow I would still have some for them as well. Was working fine for a little bit but eventually it kept growing a white layer on top (no surprise there) but now the thing stinks like mad. I have a hard time even pulling out a bucket of slop for them because it stinks so bad. The worms don't seem to mind eating it, it hasn't killed off my bin by any means but I would like to try to get this stuff back to a not stinking proper ferment if possible. Its about half water half food pulp, it looks good under the top 1/4", some floating most has sunk.

Any ideas on how to restore this? I put some rock salt in (probably should have put some in a long time ago...) but forgot that as a basic step in lacto fermenting. The lid is also not 100 percent sealed.
 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I wonder if adding bokashi would help?
 
wayne fajkus
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Dump it out, spread it out, let it dry?
 
William Bronson
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Thanks for posting, I did something similar and also don't know what to do.
Mine was to be a worm bin, made out of a large wheeled, lidded recycling bin.
Too few worms, too much water,too much food, and too much sun has made for a stinking mess.
I just need to get rid of it, the best idea I have had thus far is bury it in a ditch.
I have an In ground compost pit made out of a bottomless garbage can, it works pretty well thus far at handling our weekly additions, but there is still a can full of stink to deal with.

As to your problem, hoe about adding an airstone and going aerobic?
 
John Master
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I emailed bokashi but afterward read that their stuff is sensitive to lots of moisture and doesn't do well with already moldy stuff that could take over the ferment so not sure if that is a good option, also involves me handling a lot of the stinky stuff into a new bin. Maybe an option for my future scrap handling if I cant get a system like this going reliably.

dumping it out into say a pile of mulch and let it dry was an idea that crossed my mind, worried I will just have an open air rotting fly pile though. If I dump it I am going to have to do it somewhere remote or just bury it.

not sure what going aerobic will do, can anyone elaborate if that would help or just feed the stink?
 
John Master
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could vinegar be used here in some way, I am thinking like a pressure canned version of pickles as opposed to a lacto fermented kind?
 
chip sanft
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Have you thought about adding lots and lots of dry carbon-rich material like paper? That might slow down the decomposition and soak up water.

Or you could make a shallow ditch to hold the slop, add wood, then bury it all hugelkultur style.
 
Burra Maluca
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John Master wrote:

not sure what going aerobic will do, can anyone elaborate if that would help or just feed the stink?


When there is plenty of oxygen getting to all parts of the compost, it breaks down completely. In an-aerobic breakdown, when oxygen can't get to all the compost, the breakdown is not complete. Those incomplete breakdown products are the source of the unpleasant smells associated with badly-made compost.

Here's a useful link from Cornell Composting - Odor Management
 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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now its starting to make more sense, once I feed it to the worms it doesn't really stink that bad, they churn it and get air into it and eventually their bin stops stinking (until I put in another scoop). Do you think the fact that I ground up some months old overwinter stored in a heap outdoor scraps is probably where the stink came from in the first place, incomplete breakdown to begin with? I could dump this load hugel-style and start over but just trying to avoid the same thing from happening again.

Is there any hope of this working in the future, you can see what I am attempting, a giant continuous in-continuous out batch of shredded "pickles". Would I just have to get a good whey based lacto-ferment going and be more careful with adding the right amount of salt, air-lock, non-rotten food scraps going in?
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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I think if you skimmed the scum off the top, added a little more carbon (pine shavings maybe), then put grape leaves on top of the whole pile you might be able to resurrect the worm food ferment. Reducing the offending scum then adding carbon to reduce the smell, and re inauculating/sealing out the atmosphere with the grape leaves (I've seen this in some fermented pickle recipes) might help quite a bit.
 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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I like that, I have been trying to come up with a "crock rock" type concept and nothing has materialized, we have lots of big leaf weeds around this time of year I could use.
 
John Master
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I ended up using a little of all of your advice, Put leaves on it for awhile, then finally siphoned off as much of the liquid as I could and mixed in 40 lbs of wheat bran I had left over from my "make your own bokashi bran" project to make it into more of a clumpy paste and dry it up. I used another drum I had to build a large scale bokashi bucket with a divider and a drain. and scooped all f the slimey paste out into the new mongo bokashi set-up. So far no stink, I think it will come around well and should be a great 30 gallons of worm food for my wigglers.

Now in the kitchen we are using bokashi style composting and though it's only been a few weeks it seems like a much better system for our needs and climate. I like that I can keep it sealed and indoors in the winter with no stink and no outdoor freezing, also I like that almost all of our food can go in here including bones meat dairy carbs citrus onions and once they are broken down with the microbes I think the worms will have no problem with those otherwise no no items. We'll see! Thank you for your help, what a stinky mess this was!
 
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