How to Troubleshoot Your Compost Pile

There are a few common issues encountered when composting. They include rotten odors, ammonia odors, low internal pile temperatures, and pests like rats, raccoons, and insects.

If your pile develops a rotten odor, then it is likely not getting enough air and/or is too wet. When this happens, check the moisture level. If it is high, then add more course dry materials like straw. If the moisture level is fine, then it is likely poor aeration, meaning the pile needs to be turned.

When your pile develops the smell of ammonia, you have too much nitrogen rich (“green”) material in the pile. Simply mix in more “browns” like straw or sawdust.

Low pile temperatures can be caused by many things, including the pile being too small, not having good aeration, too little moisture, two few nitrogen rich “greens”, and cold weather.