Fuzzy mold in compost

Bellevue, NE(Zone 4b)

I got myself an indoor trashcan w/ a flip up lid and pull out bucket to keep my compost stuff in (so I don't have to run outside in the snow all the time.) I forgot to empty it into my outside compost bin before I left on vacation. When I came back it was very stinky and had fuzzy white mold all over everything. I dumped it in the yard, but didn't add it to my compost. I am worried about that mold causing problems if I put the compost w/ edibles this year - should I be worried about that? I don't really do much w/ my compost - just dump things in the bin (it is round and can be rolled to mix stuff up, but I haven't done that since the fall) - I don't know how hot it is or if that matters with the mold. I am really a newbie at all this and would appreciate any advice anyone can give me. Also, can I put fireplace ashes in compost or would that be bad for the soil? Thanks!

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

That fuzzy white mold may be exactly what you want to see! I cannot recall the name of it (I may look it up later on) but it signifies the correct decomposing process going on. If you let it continue the stinky will quit and the compost will accomplish that lovely scent of good fresh dirt. That white stuff is what does that, they told me. Is it stringy looking?

I think dumping it on the garden is a good thing to do -- the air will clean it up as it will eventually make what was probably anaerobic (without oxygen) decomposition into aerobic -- meaning the stink will go away.

I would not worry about it in the garden at all, if it was me.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I also say its OK. if you an put manure in a compost, surelyy some white mold is fine ^_^

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

good point.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

I keep reminding myself that "composting" is just a fancy way of saying "making stuff rot faster." Before it's done, my pile of nasty stuff is moldy, buggy, stinky, ugly, and not something I'd want to hold in my hand. After it's done, my neighbors would pay to get a handful.

Maybe it is actinomycetes, which is desirable.

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

YES, jimmyd, that is the word my poor old brain was searching for and could not recall! Actinomycetes! Actinomycetes show up as fuzzy and stringy white mold-looking stuff, but that is what signals that your decomposing is working properly.

Bellevue, NE(Zone 4b)

Thanks for all the feedback! I have to put in new garden beds in the spring, and I am looking forward to adding my own compost to the mix. It also makes me feel good to not be putting as much stuff into a landfill. :o)!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

And remember this: The organisms that eat your decomp is what the EARTHWORMS eat. Contrary to popular belief, earthworms do NOT eat the stuff in the compost pile. They eat the stuff that's eating the stuff that's in your compost pile. So, the faster your stuff is breaking down and "rotting" the more organisms and the greater the smorgasbord for the worms.

Toss in some used coffee grinds and the earthworms will sell their firstborn to show up at your compost cafeteria!

Earthworms are your friends!!!

Actinomycetes molds are also growing on the top layer of my compost, should i mix it with the entire compost or let it be until it fully decomposed the scrap fruits?

South Florida, FL(Zone 10b)

If the mold is growing on scraps sitting on top of the pile, it is because you haven't "turned" your compost in a while. If it is growing in the actual compost, it is probably from lack of turning and lack of ventilation. The mold isn't necessarily a bad thing, but regular turning of the pile speeds everything up. The bacteria and fungus inside your compost pile are what break everything down and make it amazing non stinky compost. Mold will eventually break it down but it takes a lot longer. If you have a compost pile that you regularly add new scraps too, it will benifit you a lot to turn it regularly. It also cuts down on a lot of the smell and bugs. I add new scraps to my pile a couple times a week. Each time I do, I turn them under. You would be amazed at how quickly they can break down when you dig them in as apposed to just adding to the top of the pile.

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