Help! I've created putrid mushroom compost--what do I do?

AJay8912March 17, 2014

I got some mushroom compost from Mountain Meadow Mushroom farm in Escondido CA, which gives away spent mushroom compost. This particular compost has very good reviews on Yelp as being a good growing medium. That was about 3 1/2 or 4 weeks ago. I wasn't ready to use it yet--I'm going to combine it with some other compost and the other component's of Mel's Mix for square foot gardening. So I just left it tied up in black garbage bags.

Well now that I open it I see my big mistake. I don't make compost (hence why I was acquiring it elsewhere). I do make bokashi, but it's a different process. I had this nagging thought that maybe I had to provide air for the compost since it still had mushroom stalks in it, so I guess it was not completely ready to use.

I dumped out all the garbage bags and now I have two big stinking piles of wet, horrid, putrid stuff (the most vile smell ever). It's just sitting there now.

I also added one bag to the Mel's mix I was making. Then I added a few ounces of effective microorganisms (EM), the kind I use to make bokashi, hoping maybe they would rebalance things in a nice way.

Now I am really worried and wondering what to do--

1. What do I do with this stinky stuff. How can I save it? Should I cover it and add some EM and hope it completes its process anaerobically, which has obviously already started?
2. Have I done something really terrible by adding some of it to my Mel's mix? Do I need to fix it? And how?


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The putrid odor says the compost was too wet when put into those plastic bags which did not allow any air to reach the compost. Let it dry some and get it out of those plastic bags where the compost can breath and it will be okay.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:08AM
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You could sprinkle some dry mulch over it to mask the smell in the meantime--such as shredded leaves, etc. Leftover soil from planting buckets can also be sprinkled on. Worms might actually thrive in this after it settles a bit.

Experiences like this show the value of mulch turner bins. The best alternative, lacking that, is to mulch in layers--moist layers followed by dry ones.

IMO physically turning mulch exposes me to more mold spores than I am interested in inhaling, although I admire people that have the fortitude to do it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:26AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"IMO physically turning mulch exposes me to more mold spores than I am interested in inhaling, although I admire people that have the fortitude to do it."

Just imagine bathing in the pollution on the rush hour highway, most people around here don't know compost, but I'm sure they would all
rather roll in the leaves than breath that exhaust. Look in some of your processes food, research the hard to pronounce ingredients. There's a lot of more concerning things in the world than turning your compost, which I would rank up to one of the most healthiest activities you could probably do today.

If you would of seen me the other day, mixing perlite/peat to make my seed starter... I looked like Montana, perlite dust all in my nose. The peat, sticking to my facial hair, making me look like a damn gorilla! I'm sure inhaling that isn't to great neither. I'm normally extremely anal about that kind of stuff, but i couldn't find a mask, and quite frankly just needed to get it done. But i could tell you, that burning in your throat and nose when inhaling perlite/peat dust, you don't get any of that from turning compost or digging in a few leaves.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:13AM
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If you have a "spare" bin/bed, you could dump all the wet muck into it and it will eventually dry down. Control the stink with a top layer of something that isn't impervious to air, like any sort of soil from a bag or another bin or bed.

Time will fix things. It usually always does. If there's too much muck, re-bag some of it and deal with that bag later. Don't worry about ruining Mel's Mix. It's not sacred, it's just potting soil.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 2:05AM
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