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Composting Tip: Why Your Compost Pile Might be Smelly (and How to Fix it)

Let's talk about one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to starting a home compost: the smell. Compost actually shouldn't be smelly at all! If you compost has anything other than a regular dirt or soil smell, this can be a sign that your compost may need some extra love to keep it healthy and productive. Here are the top 3 reasons your compost pile might have developed a stench and how to fix them:

  1. The pile is too compact: When your pile it too compact it means the microbes that get the decomposition process going aren't getting enough air so all those food scraps are just sitting there getting smelly. The answer to this is to turn your compost more often to help aerate the pile. 
  2. The pile is too moist: When your pile has too much moisture in it, some liquids will leach out and create a smell. Make sure you add enough dry ingredients to keep your compost from getting bogged down with liquid.
  3. The ratio of browns to greens is off: Remember you should aim for a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens. When you have too many greens your compost will become more compact and wetter. Add more browns to both create structure in your compost (which will help spread your compost) and air it out. 

The main things you want to implement when avoiding smelly compost is both active aeration (physical turning) and passive aeration (adding larger particles and more browns) to help give the microbes the best environment to do their job!

Happy composting!