Compost, gardener’s black gold, is one of the best things that can be mixed into garden soil and making it is a simple DIY project. However, the homemade black gold is not without its problems. Balance is key for creating your own compost, 50% green material and 50% brown material and preventing the compost heap from turning into a stinky, slimy, pest-infested mess. Use these quick-fix cures for those times when the heap of potential black gold gets out-of-balance.
Flies are attracted to meat and meat products, like dairy. Corn cobs or skins from baked potatoes that have a few drops of butter smeared on them after mealtime, then deposited into the compost heap is all that’s needed to attract flies. Send the flies in search of greener and stinker grounds by mounding up all kitchen waste in the center of the compost heap and surrounding it with hay or grass clippings. That will mask the meat or dairy scent and prevent the flies from feasting and laying eggs in the heap.
When a trail of ants is heading in and another trail heading out of the heap, that’s a good sign your compost is too dry. Get rid of the ants by spraying the heap with water and turning compost over. Deter an ant attack in the future by keeping the compost moist and turned regularly.
If the putrid stench of rotting garbage or ammonia assaults your nose when you come near the heap, the compost is either too wet or contains too much green material (vegetable scraps, peelings, etc.). To tame the stink and bring the heap back into balance you’ll need to add brown material, like hay or shredded newspaper (black print paper only) and give the heap a turn. Add brown material until the compost is barely damp and that, combined with aerating the ingredients through turning, will dispel the smell. If a thunderstorm is on the horizon, cover the heap of black gold with a water-proof tarp so it won’t become saturated again.
It can seem like it’s taking forever for raw ingredients to turn into black gold, and sometimes the decomposition process does get stalled. Jump start the decomposition by starting a new heap on top of the old heap. Pile equal amounts of green and brown material right on top of the old compost heap, water it all down, then walk away. The new material will heat up and get the old materials fired back up so it will all start decomposing again and making black gold for the garden.