Got Composting Questions?

Do have any burning questions about composting that we haven’t answered here?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

We’ll do our best to answer your question, and to improve the site for anyone else who might want to know the same thing.

Please note that your question will not appear immediately on the page. It will go into the “moderation” area, where I will answer it and then publish it.

Questions often get answered as quickly as the same day.

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633 thoughts on “Got Composting Questions?”

  1. I live in East Tennessee and have a compost bin that I have been using for about a year, have turned it several times when adding new material, I was removing the contents from the bin and found that the bottom foot or so of the material is filled with a thick matt of roots, the roots are growing up from the ground and taking over the compost.
    Why is this happening and how can I prevent it?

    1. @Tim D. Jenkins, You need to turn the compost more often, this will keep the roots from growing up into the bin. At the very least you should turn your compost bin a few times a month and if possible once a week.

  2. My problem is never too-dry compost. Materials I use comprise grass cuttings veg trimmings, fruit peels, coffee grounds and plant stalks (short annuals mainly). I use a compost bin and normally leave the materials for about twelve months. I have even left stuff for two years. When I do come to empty the bin I am faced with a soggy and heavy solid mass which takes ages to separate into reasonable sized lumps which do not break down when added to the beds. I tend to add sand to lighten the mixture, this helps, but I feel I am missing out on this soft easily-spread material that seems to be promised by most compost articles. Any suggestions?

    1. @ Ray Carroll, You need to aerate it more often, at least once a week and drill a lot of holes in your bin, you need more air. Do you have a bottom on the bin trapping the water and not allowing it to drain? If so, get rid of it or drill holes in it.

      1. Steve
        Thanks for your comment.
        The compost bin does not have a base and generally leaks liquid through it. I have already drilled holes in the bin mianly around the top to allow evaporation to escape. I take your point about aeration I normally have only done this about twice a year

  3. Can you aerate it too much? I’m just starting a compost pile and it would be nice to have some to put in my beds by planting time. I know aerating helps speed it up, but would doing it every day be too much?

    1. @Kristin, Yes you can aerate too much. By aerating daily you do not allow the microorganism time to start working again. This is why you see a slight cool down each time you aerate but then it heats back up once they have a chance to start working again. I would not aerate more than once a week.

  4. Good morning. I have been successfully composting for more than 2 years but now have maggots in the bin and do not know whether i need to empty and start again or if covering them with grass clippings and turning over (I have a Green Genie ie one of the traditional compost ‘bins’)will do (?) I also sometimes have what i think is fruit fly lavae when i do use the compost. I kill them off with a small spade but is there something I’m doing to make this happen? Kind regards.

    1. Pauline, Are you adding bread or maybe meat to your compost? If so, don’t. No, maggots will not harm your compost bin, try turning it more often as well.

  5. My husband just built me my first compost bin to prepare for our garden this summer. How do I know when the material in the bin is ready to take out and add to my soil?

    1. @Bridgette, I usually wait until my compost is complete done before harvesting it, in other words when it looks like dirt, however I know other will harvest when it’s not completely broken down, maybe 85%.

  6. It’s starting to warm up here in new york. First day above 60 and already my open compost bin (made up of chicken wire wrapped around 4 posts) is attracting lots of flies and flying insects. I have my kitchen scraps between layers of dry leaves. The bin is far from the house but was wondering if I can do anything to reduce the flies? Will their number decrease when the pile starts cooking?

    1. @Behrooz, Try mixing your pile a few times to make is less attractive to the insects, and yes they may go away when it starts to cook.

    1. @Joe, I would need to know what the ingredients are, i.e. what all is in your compost pile. If primarily leaves then you need nitrogen, keep it moist and well mixed. If all nitrogen then you need carbon, i.e. leaves, etc.

  7. Can you use cat and dog hair in composting? I have 3 cats and a dog. Most of the lint from my dryer has hair from my pets, is it still safe to use?

    1. @Sally, Yes you can compost dryer lint with dog and cat hair, it may take a little longer to break down but it will eventually.

  8. I have a large compost area with concrete block walls. I use leaves and grass clippings and rotate thru a four year cycle before I use it. I have problems with weeds growing in it.

    1. @David, Sorry but not sure if this was a question or statement. I have similar problems and just pick the weeds that are growing out of my compost bin. If anyone has a better solution please let David and I know.

    1. @Laura, Yes, as long as your compost bin gets fairly hot you should not have a problem composting bird waste since they are vegetarians.

  9. Per HOA regs in my community I cannot have a compost bin on the lawn. I was thinking of putting one on my small, elevated, covered wood deck, hidden from view. I was wondering if I could use a standard plastic laundry hamper — the kind perforated on all 4 sides for ventilation. Would this work? Would I need to drill holes in the bottom? Put it up on bricks to allow drainage and/or aeration? Or would an airtight plastic trash can work better? I am totally new to composting and appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

    1. @Karen, If you want to do normal composting without worms then yes it will need to drain and be mixed a few times a month. I suggest a worm bin. You can use storage bins nested inside one another. The bottom one will collect the liquids so drill holes into the top one to allow drainage, make sure you put a lid on the top one. You can buy worms online for vermicomposting. It’s a slow process but tons of fun.

  10. Hello Steve,

    I am in the third almost fourth month of my compost and it smells like sweet earth, but it is still very moist, and I do not have hole in the bottom of my bin, it is just a small kitchen bin which I have put fruits and veggies in along with dryer lint, plant leaves, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds, brown paper bags and news paper. You have said that it will be like dirt, will it be like dry dirt in the bin or do I need to take it out to my balcony and let the sun dry it out to be dirt like. If I use it in it’s current state will it harm my house plants. How much long do I have to let it stay, will it stop getting moist once it is ready to be used. Please help as much as possible, this is my first time and I need all the help I can get . I will accept information from anyone who is willing to share.
    Thank You

    1. @mgibson, You need drainage holes in your compost bin to allow the water to drain out. Yes, put it out on your porch and it should begin to dry out. No, it will not harm your plants in its current moist condition.

  11. Hello Steve,
    My bin has openings on the lid with a filter covering it, should I take it outside will this help with the drying of my compost, but if I do will this attract bugs.
    Once again I thank you

    1. @mgibson, What you are describing sounds like a counter top pail. Is it small, like one gallon in size? If so then it’s not designed to compost in but as a temporary storage area until you take it out to your bin. If that is not what you have, then yes it can attract bugs and not a whole lot you can do about it, bugs and composting go hand in hand.

  12. once you have used compost in a planter can you use the same planter and compost the next year or do you have put new compost in

    1. @Joseph Dunn, Yes, you can reuse it but you may want to freshen it up a little with some new compost. Take it out, break it up (mix it), add some new and put it back in.

  13. I am just looking to start composting and want to build my own composting bin (to save money). I can find everything online about materials and how to make it but no where can I find a recommended size. Any suggestions? Is there a such thing as a compost bin being too tall?

    1. @Heather, Pickup some pallets, nail them together on three sides, back and two sides. Nothing on the bottom or top. Use the forth as a gate. Use some chicken wire on the inside to keep the material falling through the spacing in the wood. Or you can build the same design using cinder blocks. Pallets are cheaper and less heavy. Typically you want it 4 to 5 feet tall, any higher and it might become unstable and hurt someone.

  14. Recently we got a few yards of wood chips from the highway maintenance department. Would this be considered nitrogen or carbon when I add it to my compost bin?

    wou

  15. When I lift the slats at the bottom of my composter where the composted soil is taken out, I have seen several critters that look like centipedes (short worm-like with short legs.) Are these ok for my garden?

  16. Really cool site! I’ve learned a ton about composting. A couple questions:

    – How can I test the nitrogen/carbon balance in the compost to make sure I’ve done it well?
    – How can I make sure the temp inside is hot enough?
    – Finally, about 7-8 years ago I started dumping grass clippings in the corner of the yard to plug a hole kids kept crawling through. (They didn’t like crawling through grass clippings so it worked!) Eventually my neighbor started adding his grass to the same pile. So we have a fairly huge pile of grass clippings now, after all these years.

    I never thought about composting until last week when the guy at home depot looked at me crazy because I wasn’t composting. So I’m wanting to turn my grass pile into a compost pile. I checked, and much to my pleasure, though it looks like grass on the top, if I dig deep down it’s black as can be!

    My concern of course is that the balance of nutrients is way off. Since I’ve never intentionally put anything other than grass in there, how can I get the balance right, salvage what I’ve got, and move forward with quality compost?

    Also – I’ve got a pile of OLD fire wood that’s probably about 15 years, maybe 20 years old. It’s huge. it’s way too old to burn. We’ve tried it and it just smokes forever. If I chipped it up would it be a good addition to my compost?

    AND, also, with such a strong nitrogen based head start, how long should it take to start getting new stuff broken down and into the mix so the compost is good to use? (when I say I have a lot, it’s probably the back of a pickup worth of grass clippings turned to grass only compost)

    Thanks

    1. Jeremy, You want a mix of 4 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen by weight. It does not have to be exact; it will break down either way. Buy a compost thermometer to check the temperature in your compost pile – http://www.cleanairgardening.com/coth.html
      As for the old grass clippings, give it a good mix, add some leaves and kitchen scraps and mix it again. Keep it moist and mix (aerate) a few times a month and it will be great finished compost.
      And the old fire wood will break down just fine if you can chip it into small enough pieces. If they are too large it will take much longer to break down. Consider using it as mulch.
      Finally, too much nitrogen will make the compost clump into balls, so you need a good supply of carbon, like leaves, shredded paper, wood chips, etc.

    2. Jeremy, if you still have that woodpile, consider incorporating that in your super-nitrogen grass pile. The concept is called hugelkultur: making a small hill to use as a raised gardening bed out of old wood–the older, the better. This is only useful to you if you’d like a raised bed, but it has all kinds of benefits, from soil improvement to water conservation to wood disposal without having to chip. Normally the wood must be given a nitrogen supplement, but older wood has already absorbed nitrogen, and you have that decomposed grass to use anyway. Look it up online & see if you can use it.

  17. I have a healthy compost pile with about a zillion red worms crawling through it. How can I start using the compost without depleting my worm population?

    1. @Henri, You could try giving them a food source on the side of the pile allowing the worms to gravitate to the food. Once they have done this, pull out the compost you want. Or you can dump the whole pile on a tarp and hard sort out all the worms.

  18. I have recently started composting, and want to use it in my garden this spring. Do I have to filter is somehow? I have brown, soil-looking dirt, mixed with the new food I have recently added, and that doesn’t look at all like the humus I see in all the pictures I am finding on the internet. What step am I missing? I turn it and water it every few days, but don’t know how to “screen” it.

    1. @AM, Yes, you need to screen it with a sieve. I would pull out all the unfinished compost and add it back to your bin. On this next batch, at some point, you need to stop adding to it and allow it to finish. Put the new material to the side or in another compost bin.

  19. I started my own compost 3 weeks ago. I bought one at Sam’s Club that is black and large. It looks very similar to some you have pictured here. My husband and I cook daily. We put orange peels in daily along with egg shells daily, coffee grounds, and vegetable bits from making salads daily. We also have plenty of fresh grass clippings and dried leaves. I put soil from our raised garden in to start and there were some worms in it I’m sure. I’ve turned the compost several times, added leaves when there have been too many flies as well but it doesn’t seem to be breaking down at all. The container is in full sun most of the day. I open it once a day to put things in. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. It doesn’t seem too dry to me as we put the orange left overs from juicing every morning so it’s getting moisture from that. Should I add worms? Should I not open it every day? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I’m really frustrated. We live in Austin so it’s really hot right now. Thanks!

    1. @Samantha Nierop, Cut back on the orange peels, the acidity is not good, a few is ok every now and then but you are likely adding to many. Composting takes time, I allow mine to break down for 3 to 6 months. Keep adding to it, keep it as moist as a well rung out sponge and mix it every few weeks. Once the bin is full stop adding to it and allow it to finish. Either start another pile or bin for your kitchen scraps or throw them out. You will likely find you will need another compost bin while the first is finishing up.

  20. I have never owned a compost before seeing as how I live in an apartment building in new york city. I have been wanting to make one though, and put food scraps to good use. I have been reading up online that it might just be possible to make a small one on my fire escape. Would you consider it a good idea to make a compost right out side my bedroom window (where the fire escape is)? Or would it be a horrible idea considering that during the summer my fan is at that window? Will there be a horrid smell that can be carried in? Also, being that I dont have much access to leaves and grass would a paper and food scraps compost only be a good or bad idea? Does a compost HAVE to have leaves and things? Thanks in advance for the advice!

  21. Steve
    I recently submitted an item about over-moist compost which would not spread when put out on the beds. I have come up with a solution which involves an old-fashioned mincer and plenty of patience. The key to this is the mincer worm screw which transports the material to the cutter. It compresses the material into a small even shape which is then sliced into a plug about the size of a walnut. DO NOT fit the mincing disc and you may have to find a method to keep the end cutter in place to prevent it coming off while mincing. I found a length of plastic tubing allowed me to hold the cutter in place while turning. Where possible allow the compost to dry in the open air or a sack with air holes for a couple of days. Any hardened material will be ground into a fine mix which you can screen out as an addition to your potting compost. The bulk of the material will spread evenly over the beds and will be fine enough to amalgamate into the soil. One final tip, water the beds after adding the compost and turning the soil. Keep the hoe active and the soil moist for a couple more days. I never said it was going to be easy, but for me at least it seem st be working

  22. Have been successfully composting using two proprietory plastic bins for a several years. Two questions: I need to move the bins, and I would like to move them on to some existing concrete hardstanding rather than on an earth base as now. Is this likely to cause problems? The other question concerns sawdust from wood-based used cat litter which I have been using – is this still a no-no in a compost bin even with all poop removed? It does appear to have worked very well, but your advice would be appreciated.

    1. @Andrew, The only problem you might see when moving your bins to concrete is if you do not have a bottom to the bins, the soil/compost will likely stain the cement. As for using cat litter, you run the risk of some fairly dangerous pathogens being spread from the litter. For the average person it’s not a problem, however for children, pregnant woman and someone with a weak immune system it could be serious.

  23. I want to use my grass clippings but it is full of seeds that I do not like. Are the seeds killed in the process of composting?

  24. Hi all… i was wondering how i would prepare budgie poop for my vegies or could i just add it straight to the vegie garden..thanx..

    1. @Glenn

      I wouldn’t add it straight to the vegetable garden. You might dig a hole away from the vegetable garden and add it there and let it break down over an extended period of time, at which point it would be safer to add to your garden. If it were shrubs or something, it wouldn’t be a big deal to add it directly. But I would worry about E Coli or other potential issues with my vegetable garden.

      http://www.officialbarrieshuttbudgerigars.com/ecoli.htm
      http://www3.sympatico.ca/davehansen/bacteria.html

  25. I have out of date jars of baby food vegtables,fruit,chicken and beef broth,can I put any or part of this in the compost . I also would like to know putting kitchen scraps in a blender and spreading them around the plants a good idea. Thank You, Russ

    1. @Russ

      I wouldn’t put in chicken or beef broth, mostly because it might attract rodents. The rest of the out of date stuff is fine. For best results to avoid pests, bury it deep into the pile.

      No, I would not blend kitchen scraps and put them directly around plants. Although the scraps are in small pieces, they haven’t gone through the composting process and might still heat up while breaking down, or attract pests that try to eat it. First you compost the materials until they look like rich earth, and THEN you apply it.

    2. Hi Russ. I’m in the process of starting to compost, but prior to this, and while I’m waiting for my bin to TURN into compost, I do process my kitchen scraps (vegies only), add enough water to fill up a gallon water jug, add couple TBSPs of epsom salts, and my vegetable garden loves it. I use a trowel to (shallowly) dig it INTO the ground — around each plant so it’s time consuming that way (as opposed to just pouring). But I haven’t had any problems w/ rodents — and we have rats and racoons and armadillos and possums in plenty around here at night anyway (kind of a rural area). Anyway, that’s my story. This is Central Florida, btw, for whatever that is worth.

  26. My compost has little ugly worm-like critters in it. They curl up when I open the bin and light hits them.
    Is this normal? good? bad? indifferent?
    Thanks,
    lynn

    1. @lynn, They sound like they might be grubs. Buy some diatomaceous earth, or pick them out and kill them. You don’t want them in whatever you are going to add your compost to.

    1. @Alex, I typically turn my compost once a week. Not a hard fast rule but a good standard. Its also good to check the temperature to see if its cooking. If less than 90 degrees you may want to check the moisture and add some nitrogen, like coffee grounds and kitchen scraps. I like to let my compost completely break down so it looks like black dirt, others use it like mulch and start using it when its 60 to 75 percent broken down.

    1. @Gaby, No not really, it’s best to use worms when specifically vermicomposting, will it hurt adding them? No, it will not just be costly if you are buying the worms.

  27. I put egg shells, banana peels and fruit and veggie waste right into my garden- skipping the actual compost bin- I let them dry out and then turn the dirt over- is this OK? Thanks!

    1. @Lynn, Even dried out it will likely attract rodents and insects and it really needs to break down before you see the benefits. Will it hurt doing it this way? No, I don’t think so, just a little unorthodox.

  28. I have several questions:

    My plan is to compost all year to use the finished product for my spring garden prep.

    I have an open geobin compost bin, when it rains or snows, should I cover it or let it get wet since that’s what happens naturally?

    My dog pees on the bin, the bin has many air holes so i’m assuming it’s getting in…is that okay or should I build something around it to keep my dog out?

    Right now I have my compost layered with browns on the bottom, greens in the middle and browns on the top. After two days, it was very warm to the touch and hot inside. After a week I pulled the top layer of brown over and used a pitchfork to stir the green center. I also added more kitchen scraps and made sure they were deep in the middle…covered them up then pulled the brown layer back on top.
    It’s almost to week two and now I’m a little lost.
    I plan to stir/aerate my compost weekly.
    Do I store my greens (kitchen vegetable waste) until the the compost stops heating or can I add each week?
    Also, should I be mixing the browns (mulched leaves and dried grass from last fall) with my greens or keep it layered?
    I am confused because many sites talk about layering everything then talk about stirring. When do you layer and when do you mix it all together?

    1. @Carin, First, let me mention that some people make composting a little more complicated than it needs to be. Your material will break down in time no matter what. What you are trying to do is create better conditions to speed the process up. Yes, cover it when it snows, the rain will not hurt it so much. No, your dogs pee will not hurt the compost and it might keep rodents away since they will small the presence of another animal. Yes, layering is good but its quickly lost when you mix it, and that’s ok. The reason you layer is so you have a good mix of browns and greens. Make sure you aerate/mix weekly, keep it as wet as a well rung out sponge and it will break down in time. No, I would not wait to add the kitchen scraps, keep them coming each time you mix/aerate.

  29. Hi, I live in Belgium and have been composting for several years in a lidded plastic bin with a perforated bottom. I have been reading a lot and now realize that I have unwittingly been worm composting when I thought I was “hot” composting. I put kitchen waste (teabags, vegetable peelings, eggshells, etc.) and some grass clippings and leaves in the composter and stir occasionally. There have always been worms in the compost – I didn’t add them, they just appeared! They seem to be the red wrigglers. I thought my compost was finished and ready to use but a friend with more experience said that if I’m still seeing worms, there’s still food for them. My questions: Where did the worms come from? Everyone else seems to have to add them, but mine slunk in through the bottom of the composter, I guess. Where will they go when the compost is finished? Will they return to the soil? If they are not earthworms, can they live in ordinary soil or will they die? (I plan to move some to my second compost pile). Does the fact I have worms mean my compost was not getting hot enough? Thanks!

    1. @Celeste

      With a bottomless compost bin, it is normal for worms from the soil to come and go into the bottom part of the bin. They’ll come up to eat, and then leave if the compost gets too hot. It’s usually hotter near the center of the bin, and the worms will stay away from that. They’ll typically just stay around the edges where it is cooler. The presence of worms does NOT mean that your compost isn’t finished yet. Just as worms will be present in regular soil, they’ll also crawl through finished compost. So don’t use that as a sign that you need to keep composting.

  30. Hi: I started composting approx 3 months ago in a large plastic bucket of 15 galons with a lid but no holes whatsoever; the bin was out in the yards. I have been adding dried leaves, grass clipings, veggie and fruit trimmings, egg shells, laundry dryer lint. I added 15 earthworms at the beggining. I used to mix it or shake it approx every 2 – 3 weeks. Initially everything looked fine and no foul smell was present. Then, 3 weeks ago I noticed fly maggots or grubs in the mix [I thought it was part of the process]. Since then the mix has started to develop a foul smell to the point that now it is hard to tolerate opening it and also mold has shown up as well. When I dumped this mix in another similar container to assess the situation I noticed that the bottom has a lot of fluid and foul smell. I read the recommendations for aeration and mixing in the site and will do the appropiate adjustments from now on. My question is, can I still salvage this mix? or should I toss it and start again? If it can be salvaged, how should I proceed? Thanks

    1. Joan, You need drainage holes in the bin to drain the water and allow air to circulate. Yes, you can salvage it, but it will likely smell for a while. Drain the water and add some shredded newspaper to absorb the excess water.

  31. Sounds like I need a big barrel mounted on a spindle so I can crank a handle to turn the compost easily. The holes in the barrel would allow water and aeration in and dirt to drop out onto a tarp below. This dirt would be ready for the lawn or garden tada!

  32. I have a question and did not see where to leave it, so I am asking it here. My husband is a homebrewer and has put the grains and slug from the bottom of the bucket in my compost bin. I have noticed a gray, powdery mold? in my compost bin and it is hot when I turn it. Is this gray mold harmful to vegetables growing in my garden? I spread it on top of the soil but have not worked it into the ground just yet. I plan to plant potatoes and onions in this area and am concerned this mold may transfer to the food. Do you know it there should be a concern? My dog got into some of the compost yesterday, and I ended up in the emergency vet clinic as she had seizure like reaction, and I am blaming it on the compost. I do not want the same thing to happen when my family eats the food that is absorbing this from the soil! Thank you for your information

    1. @Carol, If you are concerned about that being a problem and causing those issues with your family then I strongly suggest you don’t use it and have your husband stop adding it to future batches of compost.

  33. I have been composting household scraps, grass clippings, some seaweed and shredded newspapers. The household scraps; coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit skins, dried out bread products and out dated fruits and vegetables. I have an ubundance of large larvae, about half to three quarters of an inch, they seem to keep busy. If I ad worms to help compost will this jeopardize the worm population?

  34. I have been using a plastic black trash can as a compost bin for about 2 years. The sun has broken it down and the plastic is now very thin. I am worried that the chemicals from the plastic bin may have leached into the composted soil inside the bin and contaminated it. Do you have any wisdom on the materials used to make plastic compost bins and their potential hazards after they exposed to UV for a long time?

  35. I have a home made composte bin made from an old rubbermaid tub. I live on a second floor apartment and I do have a small patio. My question is I did not drill holes on the bottom of the bin in fear of leakage on the patio is it absolutely necessary to have holes on the bottom of the bin?

    1. @LFP, Yes, you need drainage holes (AS WELL AS AIR HOLES) or it will become a bowl of some nasty funk. Put something at the bottom to collect the compost tea, dilute it and water your plants with it.

  36. My husband & I are about to compost for the first time, and until we have a chance to learn how to do it, we’ve been collecting kitchen scraps in a covered plastic garbage can for over 2 months. Of course we now have a smelly, very wet bunch of garbage, and are wondering if we can use any of that, maybe a little at a time combined with other stuff, to begin composting, or if we should just start fresh?!

    1. @Jill, Stop waiting and start composting. Add all the saved up kitchen scraps and whatever else you have stored up to your compost bin or pile and make sure you have a good mix of browns and greens. Majority of what you add to your compost bin or pile should be browns. Mix it weekly, keep it as moist as a well wrung out sponge and if it smells, add more browns.

  37. Hi. I am totally new to composting. I have read that you can put newspaper and cereal boxes into the compost bin. My concern is all the ink going into the soil. Surely that can’t be good. Am I missing something here?

    1. @Cat, If it makes you uncomfortable to compost items with ink then don’t do it but keep in mind it just goes to the landfills and breaks down there. The minimal amount of ink is unlikely to cause any significant change to your finished compost.

  38. I am back again to pick the brains of you “worm herders”. I have thousands of larvae in my compost bin. They seem to be doing the job but I am wondering what they will metamorph into. They are about 3/8″ long now, extremely active, look similar to what housefly larvae look like but much bigger. I have not noticed them changing into an adult of any kind. What’s your best guess and do I have a future bug problem???

  39. I’d be grateful for info regarding the kinds of paper products that can be used for composting: cardboard? paper bags? newspaper? magazines? junk mail? shredded typing/writing paper? Are colored or black inks toxic? Should paper products be ripped or shredded before adding? Thanks!!

  40. How do I know when to stop adding to my compost pile? Then would I just let it cook and start a new pile?

    1. @Amy, You can stop adding to your pile when you are ready to let it finish, if you have a contained pile, like in a bin, then you stop adding when its full. Then let it finish and collect the finished compost and spread it in the garden, lawn, etc.

  41. We just started our composte bin. Looks like the black one above. Have a can of worms we picked up while diging in yard. Would it be ok to dump them in the bin. I have thought about ordering some red compost worms and put some in there but didn’t know if the would survive the winter or stiring the compost or should I just make a worm farm compost tub. Thanks

    1. @Judy, Yes, it’s ok to add the worms to your compost bin however if it gets to hot and there is a plastic bottom on the compost bin and the worms cannot escape they will get cooked. For the winter, worms have survival instincts and will move to the center of the barrel to stay warm.

  42. I have some store bought mulch that from last year that I removed from my flower beds. Can I add it to my compost bin?

  43. 1 new question & 1 repeat:
    1-We just put our kitchen scraps (stored in garbage can with no holes for 2+ months) into a new spin bin and added shredded newspaper and cardboard. How often should we spin it, and will that horrible smell go away any time soon?
    2-What paper products can be composted besides newspaper? Magazines/catalogues? paper bags? typing paper? Are inks toxic?

    1. @Jill Grodi, The reason for the horrible smell is due to the kitchen scraps stored incorrectly in a unvented trash can. Yes the smell will likely go away but it might take a few weeks. Keep adding browns, i.e. leaves, shredded newspaper, etc. Typically I try to stay away from glossy paper like magazines, etc but they will eventually break down, just might take a little longer. No the ink will not harm anything

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