We at Green Action Centre hear regularly from people that they don’t compost because it is too much work and it will create odours that make it unattractive to have in their backyard.

Tell us about your experience with composting and whether these problems are as common as  people believe them to be.

Myth Busted!

As people continue to comment on this myth we have decided to leave it up for another week even though we have already busted it. The comment left for us on May 13 proves one of our points, that composting need only be as much work as you want it to be.

“My approach is a lazy one. Dump in yard waste and let nature take its course………. In spite of my laziness it works! Think of how much better it could be if I just invested a few extra hours to proportion the mix and stir the whole thing from time to time!”

And lets not forget about vermicomposting. For those with no space for outdoor composting, vermicomposting is easy and it to does not smell. “It’s the worms not me doing all the work!” For more information on this check out our vermicomposting pages.

Thanks everyone for your comments:

One of our responses indicated that a recent poll in the Winnipeg Free Press indicated that while 36% of people are composting, a further 33% are not interested. So the question is what is the reason they are not interested. Too much work, worried it will create unpleasant odours, or is just a lack of understanding/education.

Backyard composting has many benefits, both personal and collectively for the planet. As one respondent indicated, “My garden is a lot more lush since I have been adding the compost each year.” Composting is a simple and easy method of turning your waste into a free rich fertilizer for your plants and garden. You also reduce waste and at the same time reduce greenhouse gases. If you want to know more about these benefits, check this link.

The barriers that people perceive as good reasons not to compost can be overcome simply by obtaining an understanding of the process of composting. To learn more about how to avoid problems with your composting, check out “Basics and Getting Started.”

Composting is not a lot of work and in fact it is as much work as you want it to be. If you choose you can simply place the materials in your compost pile/container and patiently wait for them to decompose or you can take a more active approach and create finished compost more quickly. The decision as to how much you put into it is yours. Even if you choose to take a more active approach, the work required is not that significant.

A compost pile that smells is a sign of a problem, but one that can be controlled very easily. Most often odours are created by one of two issues:

– If the pile gives off an ammonia like smell it is due to “green materials” (vegetable /fruit scraps, garden waste, fresh grass clippings etc.) not being sufficiently covered by the dryer brown materials (dry leaves, dried grass clippings, etc). To avoid this problem you simply make sure to always cover your greens to approximately twice as many browns.

– If the compost smells like sulphur or rotten eggs, the problem is a lack of oxygen. This is most likely due to the pile being too wet or too compacted. Either way the solutions are simple. If the pile is too wet, add in more dry brown materials to absorb some of the moisture. You may want to consider covering the pile as well if there is rain forecast. If the pile if too compacted, you can turn the pile using a pitchfork, however if one of your problems is that you think that is too much work, you can use a compost aerating tool or other similar device to simply poke holes into the pile and introduce more air.

If your concern is that your compost pile has too many insects, you need to understand that some of these are an important part of the composting process. That said, if the issue is too many flies, you again are likely dealing with an odour problem that can be controlled by ensuring you always cover your greens with an adequate layer of brown material. Wasps and ants can also be attracted to odours, however they can also be an issue if you pile is too dry. An ideal moisture content for you pile would be one where the material when squeezed in your hand feels like a wrung out sponge.

The work required or the odours potentially created by composting do not have to be a barrier that prevents you from taking advantage of this free natural fertilizer. All you need is education! You can get this either from our website or you can sign up for one of our free workshops.

Check out the green myths we have already busted.