1. Put a stick of butter in it.

Last week I dumped out the compost bucket under the sink at The Environmental Center, and at the very bottom was part of a stick of butter. Yeah, so that stunk up the compost pail, the kitchen, and then the outdoor bin for like 2 days. So if you want to make sure your compost bin doesn’t smell, don’t add food that has any animal products or oil/grease on it. No leftover salad that was tossed with dressing. No leftover rice that was cooked with chicken stock. No bread with mayonnaise on it. And definitely no sticks of butter.

TIP: Keep your home compost (yard debris bin included here) limited to fruit and vegetable scraps, spent coffee grounds and tea bags for a stink free bin!

2. Have a big kitchen compost pail.

If you dump out your kitchen compost pail and it stinks – before even adding it to the compost pile – it’s been sitting there too long and it’s begun to rot, probably in an oxygen deprived environment. If you are using something like a 5 gallon bucket or other large improvised container, the food is simply rotting before you fill it up. If you have a small container and it takes you awhile to fill that up, it’s a good reflection of your diet – you’re eating out, or eating prepared or packaged food and so you’re just not adding enough veggie or fruit scraps to fill it up in a reasonable amount of time.

TIP: Get a smaller kitchen compost pail and/or dump it out once a week regardless if it’s full or not (and order a CSA – you’ll fill it up with kale stalks in no time!)

3. Ignore It.

Have you seen the sticker, COMPOST HAPPENS! Well it does, but here in Central Oregon we need to do a little work to create the ideal environment for decomposers (the bacteria, fungi and little critters turning your food waste into nutrient rich compost) or else your bin might stink, or just not break down at all. Decomposers, like all living things, need FOOD (your veggie and fruit food scraps), WATER (get more in by adding water to your kitchen compost container before dumping it in your compost bin), and AIR (achieved through turning a compost pile, spinning a tumbler or adding worms.

TIP: Add worms! They do the work for you as long as you keep them fed and warm.

In the end, most of the time your compost bin should smell like good ‘ol dirt! If it doesn’t that’s just your signal that somethings up. Get in touch if you need some help troubleshooting your compost bin or getting started!

Email denise or call 541.385.6908 x14


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    • Hi Jan – I don’t know if they can be repaired, but feel free to hold on to them and bring them to the next Repair Cafe at DIY Cave on July 14th!

    • Hi Dellie – Newport Market generously donated a few of these awhile back, and I forget if they had them in stock or if they had to order them for me, but that’s who we got ours from, so I would give them a call and ask! I know that ACE hardware at one time carried a similar type bin except it was ceramic, so that’s another place to try.

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