How to deal with problems with our compost

Composting with or without worms (what is known as vermicomposting or vermicomposting) is a simple technique to apply and from which to obtain great results. However, certain problems can often appear derived from a lack of oxygen or excess humidity. We are going to learn to identify and solve these problems with compost. You’ll see how they have an easy solution.


At Gardenprue we have already collected a lot of information about composting. In case you are a little lost or this is your first article, here is a summary of everything we have talked about:

Quality checks on compost

Composting in 2-3 weeks

How to make a compost pile

Choose between composting or vermicomposting

These are the articles that most closely resemble what we are going to talk about today. Although previously we have slightly mentioned the problems that could appear, as a result of some questions that have been asked us, today we tell you the first indications of when we are not making the compost correctly.

Either because we are in a disparate climate or because we are overdoing something, the following problems that may appear are the following:



When we can’t even get close to our compost pile, something bad is happening. We should not get used to thinking that because we have waste such as our kitchen scraps, they already have to smell bad (as is also the case with plant extracts ).

What is happening is an oxygen deficit in your compost pile, probably caused by stirring. In addition, it may be that with the recent rains that have fallen and without having covered the compost , it has taken on too much moisture. Although good, it could also be because you’ve overwatered the pile.

In short, you have excessively wet waste (the water has displaced the oxygen), hard and caked. As they ferment, they produce an unpleasant odor.


Aerate by turning with a shovel or rake. Oxygen must be allowed to enter the mixture. To counteract the excess humidity you can add dry materials or leave the lid of the composter open if it is sunny. This will allow the waste to dry.


In this case, the opposite of what we have commented previously occurs. You have forgotten to add water to the mixture, so necessary for the production of compost to take place properly. In this pile there is an excess of temperature and you have been adding dry materials such as straw, remains of woody pruning or paper.

Also, this is a closed loop. The less water, the more the temperature increases and therefore more evaporation occurs.


The only solution to a dry compost pile is to add water. You can water with buckets, hose or watering can. Add water and stir so that the entire mixture has enough moisture , as well as so that the microorganisms can work efficiently and lower the temperature of the pile.

Of course, do not go overboard and return to the first problem, excess moisture.


If weeks and even months go by and you don’t see changes in your compost, it is because the pile has not reached enough temperature to be able to degrade the materials in it.

This is because there is a bad C / N ratio ,  you need to add more materials to your pile, there is a lack of water or oxygen or, definitely, you are in pure winter and there is not enough heat.


With the first problems the solution was simple. If there are not enough materials, more must be added, if moisture is lacking, water must be added, if oxygen is lacking, aeration must be done. On the other hand, if it is very cold in your area, there is little you can do more than protect your composter very well or wait for the temperatures to rise.


Apparently, when you approach your compost heap, you notice a distinct ammonia smell. It is not as rotten as in the first case, but it is pure and hard ammonia. What is the problem?


On the one hand, you probably have excessive humidity in the pile , in addition to the fact that you have added too many materials rich in nitrogen, so you will have to counteract them with Carbon. Regarding humidity, follow the steps previously mentioned. Flip over and let dry.


There is nothing wrong if these types of insects appear. On second thought we are not doing anything wrong, the only thing is that we have deposited fresh waste in the compost pile and we have not covered it with the rest of the products. Being still fresh, it is a means of attraction for this type of organisms.


Although nothing bad happens, it does become annoying and can even be interpreted as unpleasant, so it is best to remove the remains and mix them well . This way the insects will not have full access to these fresh items.

A book that can help you on your way to compost is ” how to make good compost “, by the magnificent Mariano Bueno . An easy-to-read work of art that will take you into all the ins and outs of making good compost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *