Why You Have Smelly Compost & How to Fix It

 

We get this question from GEOBIN customers frequently: Should my compost bin smell bad? The answer is no—compost should smell earthy, like dirt, even when it’s actively decomposing food and other organic material.

Why Does My Compost Smell Bad?

Composting is all about maintaining a healthy balance of organic material and proper ventilation. When that balance gets thrown off or there’s not enough oxygen circulating, the contents of your bin will rot rather than properly break down into compost. When this happens, your compost pile may begin to smell unpleasant. The good news is there are ways to combat these offensive odors.

Why Your Compost Smells Like Ammonia

To effectively heat up and decompose, compost needs the right ratio of brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) materials. For the GEOBIN Composter, we recommend a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens. Sources of carbon include dried leaves, twigs, cardboard, and sawdust, while nitrogen-rich materials include food scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

If you notice the smell of ammonia coming from your compost bin, it could mean that there’s too much green material. Balance your compost pile by adding some carbon-rich material. Carbon is the energy source for your compost—without it, your food waste will improperly decompose and release excess nitrogen in the form of ammonia

Reasons Your Compost Smells Like Rotten Eggs or Garbage

  • Your compost pile is too compacted or lacking oxygen: Composting is an aerobic process, which means it requires the presence of oxygen. If your compost pile becomes compacted, airflow will be restricted. You can correct this by mixing up the pile and adding some “fluffy” material, such as dried leaves. This will create air pockets throughout your compost pile which will provide the microorganisms with the oxygen required to break down the organic material.
  • Your compost is too moist: This is common in spring and fall when there’s an increase in rainfall. When your compost is too wet, it will lack the aeration required to properly decompose the organic material, causing the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs. Introducing more brown material will help soak up excess moisture and eradicate these bad smells.
  • Your compost pile is not layered properly: When layering your organic material, sometimes the greens can become isolated from the browns. If this happens, the green material will begin to rot and emit a foul smell. You can fix this by mixing up your pile so the browns and green work in unison to produce nutrient-rich fertilizer.
  • You added meat, fat, or dairy to your compost: These materials release putrid odors as they break down. They also attract unwanted pests, like rats and flies, so it’s best to avoid adding these to your composter.

If you follow these simple steps to maintain your compost pile, your garden and the environment will thank you.

Share Your Favorite Composting Tip for a Chance to Win a GEOBIN® Composter

 

Summer is officially here, and we’re giving away a free GEOBIN® Composter to celebrate!

 

We’re asking you to share one composting “hot tip.” In other words, what is one piece of advice that you think others would find most helpful? Whether you acquired this knowledge the hard way or just found something that really works for you, we’d love to hear it!

Giveaway runs on the GEOBIN Instagram page from 6/24/20 through 7/1/20. To earn one (1) entry, complete one of the following actions (up to 3 entries allowed per person):

  1. Share your tip in the comments of the Instagram Campaign post and tag two (2) friends.
  2. Post a photo of your GEOBIN to your Instagram, share your tip in the caption, and tag @GEOBINComposter.
  3. Post of video of you with your GEOBIN to your Instagram, share your tip in the video, and tag @GEOBINComposter.

 

Read the Official Giveaway Rules.

Learning to Reuse & Compost Lawn Clippings Through Trial & Error

Written By: Guest Blog Post

When we moved from an apartment into our home in the Midwest, one of the things I was most excited about was breaking out the lawnmower and cutting the grass. That might sound odd to some people, but I enjoy being outside and experiencing the instant gratification of mowing the lawn while getting in a few thousand steps on my fitness tracker.

Since it was an exceptionally wet spring, the grass grew quickly and could not be mowed often enough to keep up with it. When we were able to cut the grass, we found ourselves with an abundance of grass clippings. As an active composter, I’m always looking for organic material to add to our GEOBIN® Composters, so I collected the clippings to be incorporated into our compost. When left uncollected, yard waste can be washed into storm drainage systems where it can get clogged and lead to flooding.

My original plan was to add some grass clippings to my active GEOBIN Composter and the rest to our second GEOBIN that held dry leaves from the previous fall. I quickly discovered that freshly cut grass on its own turns into a smelly pile of green slime in no time at all, so I decided to switch to plan B—reduce the amount of grass clippings I saved. I alternated collecting the clippings with mulching, which helped return some of the nutrients directly to the lawn.

Composting Is All About Balance

While I don’t strictly adhere to the recommended ratio of browns (carbon) to greens (nitrogen) in our GEOBIN Composter (25-30:1), I did want to stay relatively close to that recipe to accelerate decomposition and discourage odors.

After some trial and error, I realized I needed more browns to keep our pile balanced, so I decided to dry out our grass clippings. My husband and I have a small garden area, so we spread out the freshly cut grass clippings to dry. Once the deep green color of the grass had faded to a light tan color, we lightly raked the area to expose the greener material underneath. Once the entire batch had dried out, we added it to our active GEOBIN Composter, as well as to our second GEOBIN with the dried leaves. This worked very well, and we continued the process through this season.

To learn more about maintaining a balanced compost bin, check out our blog, “Breaking It Down: A Beginner’s Guide to Composting.”

grass in garden

Breaking It Down: A Beginner’s Guide to Composting

 

The other day I was browsing social media when I scrolled to a post from a friend about grass clippings. He was asking for advice on what to do with them since the city landfill doesn’t accept yard waste. My first thought was, “compost them!” but he commented that he had “no use for compost.” That got me thinking. If you don’t have a garden or personal need for compost, why would you bother? And what other reasons are keeping people from joining the composting movement?

To answer this question, I thought back to my own experience before I started composting. For me, it came down to a lack of understanding the importance of composting, not just for my benefit, but for the environment. It was also an intimidating process for me since I knew so little about it, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

 

Let’s Start with the Basics: What is Compost?

Compost is decomposed organic matter that makes a great fertilizer for plants. The process of composting is an aerobic method, which means it requires the presence of air to decompose organic solid waste.

To work effectively, composting organisms require four equally important ingredients:

  1. Carbon (Browns): provides energy
  2. Nitrogen (Greens): assists in growing and reproducing more organisms to oxidize the carbon
  3. Oxygen: oxidizes the carbon, which facilitates the decomposition process
  4. Water: helps with decomposition and keeps the pile’s temperature regulated

 

Environmental Benefits of Composting

The benefits of composting go far beyond creating nutrient-rich fertilizer for your flower and vegetable gardens. Composting diverts organic waste from landfills, where it lacks the oxygen needed to safely decompose. When organic matter gets trapped in landfills, that lack of oxygen in the surrounding environment causes it to break down and release methane gas—a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 22 percent of what goes into municipal landfills is food waste. Much of this organic material could be composted and returned to the earth. While not all food waste should be composted, a lot of what gets tossed in the trash could be added to your compost bin.

 

What Can You Compost?

  • Kitchen scraps such as vegetables, eggshells, fruit peelings, and coffee grounds
  • Garden and yard material such as grass clippings, leaves, annual plants, and vegetables
  • Manure from plant-eating animals only (NOT from household pets)
  • Cardboard (including the GEOBIN box)

 

What Shouldn’t You Compost?

  • Meat scraps can attract flies and maggots and slow down the composting process.
  • Dairy can attract unwanted pests.
  • Cooking oil can attract unwanted pests and upset the compost’s moisture balance.
  • Bread products can attract unwanted pests.

 

Maintaining a Balanced Compost Pile

When creating your compost, you want to maintain a ratio of 3 parts brown material to 1 part green material. This will ensure that you’ve got the right balance of carbon and nitrogen. Brown materials are rich in carbon and include straw/hay, wood chips, cardboard, and dry leaves. Green materials are rich in nitrogen and include grass clippings, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, and trimmings from perennial and annual plants.

Layer your brown and green material and add water as necessary during drier times. If you begin to notice an unpleasant odor coming from your compost, that may mean you have too much nitrogen. This can be remedied by mixing in some dried leaves, straw, or another carbon-rich material you have on hand.

Depending on the type of compost bin you choose, you will periodically need to turn the pile to aid aeration.

The GEOBIN® Composting System Is Perfect for BeginnersGEOBIN Composter

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start composting. With its easy, 3-step setup, the GEOBIN Composter is a great compost bin for beginners. The GEOBIN has excellent ventilation, which helps speed up decomposition with little effort.

The GEOBIN Composter is expandable up to 3.75 feet (216 gallons), allowing it to grow with your compost pile. It’s also the most affordable composting system on the market, allowing you to get started with a smaller investment.

 

Start your composting journey today.

Celebrate International Compost Awareness Week and You Could Win a GEOBIN® Composter

GEOBIN Giveaway

 

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) is May 3–9, 2020, and this year’s theme is “Soil Loves Compost.” ICAW, founded by the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF), is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, but things look a bit different than years past. Due to COVID-19, in-person community events have been canceled, but you can still celebrate ICAW from home.

The CCREF compiled a helpful list of creative ways you can celebrate ICAW 2020. Ideas range from creating your own compost workshops via YouTube or Zoom to starting a Victory Garden.

We’ve decided to celebrate ICAW 2020 by giving away a free GEOBIN® Composter! To help spread the word about International Compost Awareness Week, we are hosting the giveaway on the GEOBIN Composter Instagram page and encouraging fellow compost enthusiasts to share a photo of their GEOBIN Composter in action. The contest runs from Tuesday, April 28 through Saturday, May 9, 2020. Click here to read the full giveaway rules.

 How to Enter (must complete all three steps to receive (1) entry):

  1. Follow @GEOBINComposter on Instagram. ​
  2. Like the giveaway post. ​
  3. Tag two friends in a comment on the giveaway post. ​

Bonus Entry: ​

  1. Share a photo of you with your GEOBIN Composter, tag @GEOBINComposter, and include #GEOBINGiveaway.​

 

GEOBIN Composter Coloring Contest

Are you looking for creative at-home learning opportunities to keep your kids engaged while schools are closed? Now is the perfect time to teach them about composting! Incorporating composting into your child’s curriculum will not only provide a valuable science lesson but will also teach them the importance of reducing waste and helping the environment.

Get started with our GEOBIN Composter Coloring Contest!

All participants will be entered into a drawing to win a GEOBIN Composter. Download the coloring page to get started. Once your child has finished their artwork, complete the entry form below for your chance to win.

Click Image to Download Coloring Page

 

 

 

 

 

Contest Rules

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day with Seasonal Composting

Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’re all familiar with the concept, but it’s easy to get bogged down by everyday life and take it for granted.

Earth Day—which is April 22—serves as a nice reminder to appreciate the planet and do our part to help the environment. However, it takes more than one day to reverse the negative effects of some of our habits, and we should be conscious of our actions all year. Recycling things like plastic, glass, and aluminum is a great start, but what about our food waste? Shouldn’t we be recycling that, too?

Don’t Blame It All on the Cows

When our organic waste ends up in landfills, the lack of air in the environment causes the decaying matter to produce methane gas—a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas.

Composting helps divert waste from landfills, which can significantly reduce methane emissions, resulting in an all-around cooler planet Earth.

 

Composting Tips for Each Season

Despite your region’s climate, you can compost year-round. In fact, each season offers its own unique composting benefits.

 

Spring Composting

Whether you have an established compost bin or you’re just getting started, spring is a great time for composting. If you have organic material from winter in your bin, the rising temperatures will help accelerate decomposition. If you’re just starting your composting journey and have plenty of “green” food waste, you’ll want to make sure you balance it out with some “brown” carbon materials. Adding dried leaves left over from fall can help. If that’s not an option, you can also source some straw or wood chips to add to your bin.

 

Summer Composting

The summer heat speeds up decomposition, which can help decrease turnaround time for your compost. If the weather is dry, you will need to keep an eye on moisture levels and add water when necessary.

Between grass clipping and food waste from your summer BBQs, you may find yourself adding a lot of nitrogen-rich “greens” to your pile. Be sure to layer in additional autumn leaves, paper, straw or other carbon-rich materials you can access.

 

Fall Composting

Come fall, nitrogen and carbon materials are both readily available. Your compost will love the combination of grass clippings and autumn leaves. Remember to preserve some of your leaves to add to your compost in spring and summer.

Don’t forget to compost those jack-o-lanterns! Adding your decaying pumpkins to your compost pile will reduce the amount of waste in landfills and help nourish your soil.

 

Winter Composting

Cold winter weather doesn’t have to bring your composting to a screeching halt. Although decomposition may be slower, you can keep your compost pile active during this time so you have nutrient-rich fertilizer ready for spring planting. Continue to compost kitchen scraps, such as fruit peelings, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. You should also add brown materials, such as dried leaves, straw, and other plant debris.

Insulation helps to ensure the compost remains active in colder months. Snow acts as an efficient insulator for your compost, but if you don’t live in a region that sees much snow, you can use cardboard or straw to cover your bin. If possible, keep your compost bin in a sunnier part of the yard.

 

Next time you’re making dinner or cleaning out your refrigerator, take an inventory of the food waste that ends up in your trash bin. The amount may seem insignificant at the time, but when you think about the millions of people doing the same thing as you, the impact is huge.

This Earth Day, consider setting up an at-home composting system, such as the GEOBIN® composter, to do your part to reduce greenhouse emissions and help return vital nutrients to the earth.

 

Check out past blogs:

• 5 Steps to Make a Difference on Earth Day
• Composting Eggshells
• Composting Citrus Fruits

Get started by ordering your GEOBIN >>

Show the Earth Some Love this Valentine’s Day by Composting Your Flowers

A Valentine’s Day Tradition

You may not be surprised to learn that roses are the most popular Valentine’s Day flower in the United States. In fact, an estimated 250 million roses are produced for the holiday each year. Some die-hard romantics may preserve their wilting petals and turn them into potpourri, but more likely than not, those week-old flowers are getting tossed in the trash. Eventually, they’ll make their way to local landfills to join the millions of tons of organic waste that does not belong.

Each year, the average American throws away about 1,200 pounds of organic material that could be composted. This Valentine’s Day, show a little love to planet Earth by composting your expiring bouquet—whether it’s made up of roses, carnations, or any other flower. In addition to reducing methane emissions in landfills, your roses will pay it forward by creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. Just remember to remove any inorganic elements, including ribbon, decorative twigs, and plastic components.

Your red roses may be green or brown 

You may be wondering, “Are my cut flowers considered to be greens or browns?” Well, it depends on how long you keep them before deciding to add them to your GEOBIN® compost bin. If they are just wilted, but not dry, they can be added to your compost for nitrogen. If they have dried out, they’re considered to be a “brown” and can be added for carbon.

No matter when you decide to add them to your compost bin, your cut flowers are a welcome component to your healthy and well-balanced compost.

For more composting tips, download our Guide to Backyard Composting.

Freshly Brewed Compost

Written By: Jennifer Vander Linden, Product Manager

Did you know that drinking coffee could benefit your garden and enrich your compost pile?

Lets DIG IN to see how coffee grounds go from that ‘Cup of Joe’ to your luscious gardens—all while diverting organic waste from the landfills.

From the Coffee Pot to Compost

According to The National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America, “Americans consume 400 millions cups of coffee per day making the U.S. the leading consumer of coffee in the world.”

With all those coffee drinkers, coffee shops are looking to make use of their coffee grounds.

Pictured here is a coffee shop in Appleton, Wisconsin, All Seasons Coffeehouse. Not only do they give away coffee grounds, they also compost food scraps from their restaurant operation and offer the compost to customers.

Coffee grounds are a great additive to your compost pile—adding beneficial nutrients. So next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, ask if they have any coffee grounds or compost to share with you and add them to your compost pile or garden.

If you prefer to enjoy coffee brewed at home, unbleached, paper coffee filters are an ideal carbon source for your compost pile. For best results, tear the filters into smaller pieces before adding them to your compost pile.

I, myself tend to use a compost turner to shred the filter as I am turning it into my GEOBIN composter. The GEOBIN compost bin is an economical way to get started with creating a large, contained compost pile.

May Your Coffee Be Green

Do not let the brown color of coffee grounds fool you into thinking they are a “brown” additive for your compost pile. Coffee grounds are actually a nitrogen-rich “green”, while “browns” are carbon-rich materials like leaves, sawdust, hay and paper.

For composting with the GEOBIN Composter, your pile should consist of the following combinations:

  • Air + Water + Carbon + Nitrogen = Compost
  • 1 Part Greens + 3 Parts Brown + Water

Coffee Grounds are Happiness for Your Garden

Coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen, phosphorus and other trace minerals for your compost pile. The nitrogen assists with seed germination and plant growth, while the phosphorus can help improve overall the composting process. (Compost piles made up of mostly yard waste and food scraps tend to be low in phosphorus.)

There is a perception that coffee grounds are too acidic for composting. The truth is coffee grounds are highly acidic, but easily manageable–experts recommend no more than 20% of your total compost volume should consist of coffee grounds.

Plants that Prefer Acidic Soils

Since only 20% of your compost pile should consist of coffee grounds, you can always use extra coffee grounds in your garden and around plants that prefer acidic soils.

There are acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, and daffodils, so adding a sparse amount of coffee grounds to the soil around them will help them flourish. To select the color for your blooms, typically a more acidic soil with a pH lower than 6.0 will produce blue blooms. An alkaline soil, with a pH between 6 and 7, will produce more pink or purple blooms.

How to Add Coffee Grounds to Acid-Loving Plants:

  1. A recommendation by many gardeners is to rake coffee grounds into the existing soils—making for a health soil amendment.
  2. If layering coffee grounds on top of existing soil is preferred, add a ½-inch layer or less of coffee grounds–more than that could crust over, keeping water and air from the root system.
  3. Keep coffee grounds off leaves and other yard waste—so they can penetrate into the soils.

Coffee Grounds are for the Worms

As it turns out, earthworms enjoy coffee grounds. If you favor vermicomposting, sprinkle some grounds into your container to keep your crawlers happy.

A healthy soil supports earthworms, who in turn offer better drainage, make soil more absorbent, increase nutrient availability and improve soil stability. They feed on organic matter in the soil and leave behind valuable castings.

So the next time you enjoy a cup of coffee, share your joy with Mother Earth and relax in your exquisite garden.

Join the Movement this Earth Day

Written By: Rebecca Mleziva, Business Development Specialist

Earth Day was first celebrated in the United States on April 22, 1970—49 years ago. But: why and how did this start?

How Environmental Concerns Founded Earth Day

During the late 1960s, mainstream America was holding anti-war marches, singing the Beatles, and watching as the first man walked on the moon. People cruised around in their ‘muscle cars’ without any concern for the negative environmental impact these had. This generation was not troubled with environmental issues—until 1969—when the largest oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, CA, sparking major environmental concerns.

Gaylord Nelson, a former US Senator in Wisconsin, founded Earth Day after witnessing the severe damages from the oil spill—upsetting marine mammals, fish, and birds to damaging beaches, coastlines and islands throughout southern California.

Earth Day LogoSenator Nelson used the anti-war movement ‘energy’ to force air and water pollution topics onto national political agendas. As a result the ‘National Teach-in on the Environment’ was formed and gained national attention, helping to educate and assemble people across America to demand that Congress act on protecting the environment.

In spring of 1970, over 20 million Americans celebrated their love of the Earth by holding rallies in public parks, on streets and in auditoriums nationwide. People from all walks of life organized protests against environmental degradation: oil spills, pollution from power plants and toxic waste from factories. Pollution was not only affecting the environment, but wildlife was going extinct suddenly and the forests were depleting quickly. The first Earth Day was successful in uniting so many different people, with different views, to fight for one cause—our planet.

By the end of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was established, consolidating many environmental responsibilities under one agency.

Today, Earth Day is celebrated by more than 1 billion people across 193 countries. It is a day to not only increase awareness of what we all can do to protect our plants, animals and environment, but also to take action.

 

5 Steps to Make a Difference on Earth Day

This Earth Day, join in the movement to make a difference for our planet with these simple activities.

  1. Invest in Reusable Containers
    • Replace plastic bags and single use coffee cups. Not only will this save money in the long run, but it keeps non-degradable plastic out of our landfills.
  2. Keep the Keys on the Counter
    • Instead of driving, use alternative methods of transportation such as walking, biking or public transportation. These are a few good ways we can lower car emissions.
  3. Fix the Leak
    • Maybe it’s the kitchen faucet that drips or the shower handle that leaks. Taking steps to reduce the amount of water we use
      saves energy required to gather, clean,
      and deliver water.
  4. Start Composting
    • Reduce the amount of organic waste that goes into your landfill. Start backyard composting—in a GEOBIN Composter. Deposit your household kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and yard waste in the composter.
  5. Enjoy Nature Around You
    • Whether it is going on a hike or visiting your local park, take some time to look at the world around you, reminding yourself why it is worth saving.

 

 

Earth Day may only last 24 hours, but if we take the time to change just one of our daily habits, imagine the positive long-lasting impact this could have on the world around us.

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