Fruit & veggies just getting moldy

trish3747January 20, 2014

Hi everyone,
My housemate has a very nice actual compost container. Currently, it is on cement outside with no dirt, worms, paper, cardboard... anything.
Luckily, it's winter in Pennsylvania so the large amount of food waste put in the compost daily since mid October is molding slowly and isn't very smelly due to the cold...but I am pretty sure she is doing this incorrectly.

She claims she will get worms (eventually) and that it will be fine. I admit I know nothing about composting but this seems wrong to me.
Is is possible to save compost that is just fruit/veggie waste and egg shells with absolutely nothing added (not even a dirt floor!) that has been collecting of the course of 3 months?

Any imput would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

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AlexInAlbany

I would suggest mixing in at least an equal volume of dry brown leaves. This will cut down on any potential stank, and provide a carbon source for the microbes (thus speeding up the process).

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:37PM
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paleogardener(9)

Composting on concrete or cement means no microbes for decomposition all you get is rotten stuff. Also, all that rotting matter might leave a big dark stain.
Once the pile is moved to dirt the soil microbes can move in & do their job.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Lloyd

"Composting on concrete or cement means no microbes for decomposition "

ummm...no. The microbes are always present on the materials.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:13PM
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paleogardener(9)

Microbes may be present on concrete but composting on soil ensures a variety & you want psycrophiles, mesophiles & thermophiles to be able to do their job. Besides on soil you get not only compost but a nice nutrient rich spot from the liquid that leaches out & no stain on the concrete.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Lloyd

I compost in tumblers (no contact with soil), it works just fine.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:16PM
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paleogardener(9)

Does an activator have to be added periodically?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:22PM
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Lloyd

Nope.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:26PM
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toxcrusadr

The most important things are to get that off the concrete so the brown leachate that will inevitably seep out of the bottom does not stain the concrete and so that a greater variety of microbes can come up from the soil. AND to get some browns mixed in. That pile is out of balance, way too high in moisture and nitrogen, and when it thaws it's going to smell.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:43AM
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Lloyd

I agree with everything tox stated except the microbe/soil part.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:51PM
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lazy_gardens

Does she plan to buy the worms? Or does she expect them to migrate across or through the concrete?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:44PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Could she add shredded paper to help with the balance and the smell?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:36PM
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toxcrusadr

Lloyd, I admit I have no data to prove my implication that there is a greater variety of microbes in soil than what comes in on the veggie scraps. I just thought it sounded good. :-]

I had the same question about the worms, how will they get there? Also does she realize that worms contribute to composting if they are there, but compost happens with or without them?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Lloyd

Sorry tox. I wasn't implying that there is not a greater variety of microbes in soil. I happen to agree with you that there likely is a greater variety in soil.

What I don't believe is that microbes are as mobile as people think. They move well in water but I don't think they will climb out of the ground and into a pile. Tumblers work without contact with the ground ergo it is not required. The microbes are already on most products and given the right growth parameters they do very well all on their own.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 2:53PM
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mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

I'd put some shredded paper, leaves, or cardboard in with every bucket of kitchen waste that is added to the cold container. When it thaws in the spring, the browns will really help give carbon energy to all the organisms and help the composting process. Easier to add browns now as you go along than trying to mix it in the block of frozen kitchen scraps in the spring. Mold is okay in compost, but too heavy nitrogen/green ratio and you will get slime/mucky/odor with the thaw. Of course that can be corrected later with adding browns, but adding browns through the winter will help prevent that.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 7:53AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Unless one is vermicomposting worms are not a significant part of the process.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:43AM
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nc_crn

If you're composting correctly worms would not enjoy anything but the very outer layer of your pile. They generally don't enjoy hanging around 100-150F temperatures. Most worms don't like it above 80-85F soil temperature.

Quick composting relies on a balance of "browns and greens" to regulate it's own chemical reactions...along with microbes, moisture, and oxygen.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Tue, Jan 28, 14 at 5:29

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:56AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

'If you're composting correctly....'

I think maybe that should be 'if you're hot composting correctly'. If you cold compost you may well have worms and they will work in the team of organisms which break down the materials into compost.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:56PM
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nc_crn

Yes, sheet/lasagne/mulch/cold composting can (and usually does) have a worm component because of the lack of heat and it being a part of the process breaking down and mixing the material in many areas.

I should have used better wordage on that. I was writing pertaining to OP's issue...still, I should have used better wording on the statement.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 4:56PM
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compo7

Because of the hard pan 12" under my clay soil, when I amend and till my garden every fall and spring I very seldom see any worms and the vegetation decays very quickly (4-5 months). My garden is my compost bin I guess.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 6:13AM
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poaky1

The OP is in the wind it seems. I would put a 6 inch layer of browns, and add all the peels, etc until spring. In spring I would try to make a 4X4 mound or close and turn regularly and keep moist. Otherwise do the worm thing indoors over winter.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 1:35AM
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