Fruit flies. Only scientists love those little dudes. I was very pleased that the compost in my plastic bin had heated up very nicely. I am a constant but not very textbook composter. Put another way, I compost everything (including the kitchen waste from granny’s house) but I am terrible when it comes to altering green and brown, turning, containing, etc. I usually have a couple.of piles in varying degrees of decomposition and recently added a free plastic bin. Over the last season, I did begin covering my piles, having realized that the heavy winter rains of Oregon were keeping it so sodden I couldn’t turn it without using my entire day’s allotment of energy. Another challenge I deal with is dog, the compost-eater. Things that put in his dish would have him looking at you as if to say, “what’s up with this slop?” suddenly become irresistible in the compost pile. The bin solved this. All food goes into the bin and is unreachable by nasty (but cute) dog.
And so began an adventure. The bin filled nicely, packing down to hold a surprising amount of material. It heated nicely too with all the green material in the form of veggie trim and findings from kitchen and garden. It actually heated up! It bred a bazillion fruit flies. I could not open the cover without needing a face mask to breath, the air being so thick with frenzied fat fruit flies.
So Sunday I Googled “fruit flies compost”. Ding ding ding! Too much green (wet) material. Of course! Somewhere in my heart I knew I was creating a highly unbalanced mixture. I had noticed a gooey sludge escaping the base of the bin and had inexplicable ignored this red flag. But now that I had seen the light (and eaten a few too many fruit flies) it was time to fix this.
I headed out with shovel and gloves. My plan: remove the contents to a new pile, adding a generous amount of brown material throughout.
The top layer wasn’t too bad. I placed it next to the bin and added some straw from my stash. As I dug down, it got ugly. A stench rose. It was heavy with the gloppy consistency of sludge. Really gross. So I rallied hubby to gather all the paper shred he could find and to help tear into strips a couple of brown bags of newspaper.
I removed the glop little by little and added a LOT of paper and straw. I placed a few pruned apple branches on top for air flow and covered it with an old tarp to maintain some degree of moisture control. Then, I prepared the bin for another round by placing the bottom corners on bits of wood to increase drainage and airflow then starting it off with a nice layer of straw and shredded newspaper.
The plan moving forward…
Add brown material in the form of newspaper and straw as I go. (I should mention that dry leaves would also make a great addition but I used all mine this fall to squelch weeds in my perennial borders). Remove the contents to a pile after food has broken down enough to keep the dog away.
A few notes on kitchen composing my way. I start with a plastic coffee can in my kitchen counter. All coffee grounds, tea bags, veggie trims and waste, moldy bread, egg shells and any other compostable materials go in. I keep this open and empty it sometimes daily or at most every couple of days into a 5 gallon bucket on my back porch. When the bucket is full or just getting nasty, I haul it out to the compost bin. I also bring stuff home from ky grandma’s house. There, I keep a coffee can with a produce bag on the counter. When it is full, I close the bag and throw it in the chest freezer. This is so I can more cleanly deal with hauling it home and getting it into my bin but freezing also has the benefit of helping the materials break down more quickly.