Our annual end-of-summer contest is here, come on down to the Dave's Garden County Fair!

Ants and now this!

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Last Saturday someone who lives at my house (but not me) left the hose running in my compost bin. Overnight. We turned it this morning, and it's stinky. Never been that way before. I have drain holes in the bottom, but it is still very yukky wet. The bins are 8ft diameter and 10 ft diameter and both two feet high. We put about 2inches of old hay in the emptied out one, and then spread about six inches of the wettest matter back into it. That was about 1/3 of the total. That's all I know to do. Will it be ok when it dries out? We're already having triple digit temps, so it shouldn't take too long to dry out.

Please advise.

OK, I'll tell you. It was my DH, who doesn't know a pitchfork from a weed popper, who left the water on. Good thing for him that he's such a good guy, cuz messin' with my compost is a no-no.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I think you're going in the right direction. let as much as possile drain out. It might ac tually drain better if it is in contact with soil.

The stink comes from excessive water preventing air from getting into the compost. Anerobic bacteria will outnumber aerobic bacteria and fungi. Also, many bacteria can "go either way" and will switch from aerobic respiration to anerobic fermentation.

Fermentation products stink (organic acids and alcohols plus other things like di-amines) . And they are slighty toxic to roots.

After some water drains out, you'll need to turn, or at least "fluff up" the compost. If the channels and voids formed by fluffing up are full of air, oxygen can diffuse in very rapidly. When those channels are small and filled with capillary water, there is almost no air diffusion: just slow dissolving into water and very slow diffusion through bound water.

The "straw" idea is great. A layer of straw should let air difuse almost instantly through it (until it mashes down flat). Alternating a few inches of straw, with a few inches of broken-up muck will help air get in and water evaporate out.

Once the mcuk dires, you might turn it again to break up the muck into smaller bits.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks a million, Rick. That's just what I needed to hear. We'll keep at it until it dries up and smells "sweet" again.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I love compost - in some ways, better than plants. It's less fussy!

Just keep turning it, spread it out shallower, and layer it over dry hay or shredded paper or shredded cardboard (to give it more air).

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Lots of company the last few days, so just now getting out there for a look again. Hope it's sufficiently dried out, and I think it should be with this hot, hot weather we're having. Ooops, just remembered---we got and inch of rain this morning, but, of course, hot again now.

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