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Why Does My Worm Compost Bin Smell?

A common myth about composting is that it smells. But, when done correctly, a compost bin shouldn’t smell at all! If your compost bin smells, or if you want it prevent it from ever getting there, learn how you can get your worm compost bin back in action, smell-free.

Greens and Browns

As a composter, you will be inputting “greens” and “browns” - all of which fall under the umbrella of organic waste. Greens provide nutrients (nitrogen) and moisture to the compost bin, while browns (carbon sources) provide energy while balancing excess moisture and structural strength of the compost itself. Greens are what most people have as food or garden scraps (that aren’t dried up or entirely dead), think banana peels, avocado skins, moldy food, burnt toast, and the

latter. Browns are made up of dry, papery material like dead, crunchy leaves, twigs, homework, diary entries, newspaper, and cardboard (remember to remove the tape and shipping labels before adding this into your bin, as the plastic will only break down into micro-plastic - not actual compost).

Not Overfeeding Your Worm Bin

Some people add their “inputs” in their compost bin scientifically, measuring exactly the ratio of greens to browns. Everyone composts differently, but we recommend following a 2:1 ratio of browns:greens to begin, meaning adding 2x the amount of browns to the greens you add to the bin (making sure you “lasagna” layer the materials, stacking browns, then greens, and so on - but always ending with browns to absorb excess moisture that accumulates at the top of the compost bin lid).

If your bin seems too wet, add some extra brown materials and don’t feed the bin any greens for a week or two. If it is drier than a wrung out sponge, add a bit more greens to the bin (most people tend to add too many greens and overfeed their worm bins, leading to that smell and unwelcome bugs). It is as simple as that to overcome a wet, smelly compost bin.

The End Product

A healthy compost bin will act like a black hole. It will continue to shrink in mass and will leave room for you to continue to add plenty of organic waste for months to come. When you are ready to harvest your worm castings (worm poop or worm compost), we recommend following this guide and doing so about three or four times a year to give the worms time to break down the material. In-home compost bins might not produce enough compost to fill your entire garden, but

they are able to compost almost all of your household waste. And, you can always get another compost bin if you are passionate about composting all of your household’s organic waste.

Get Your Own Free Worm Compost Bin

Let’s Go Compost is a community-led effort to make compost bins free and accessible. We upcycle empty bulk ingredient bins into free, food-safe worm compost bins that are donated back to the community. Click here to get your own free worm compost bin.


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