Is Our Compost Safe to Use?

by Liz B.

My husband decided to put our compost into a 5 gallon bucket & put the lid on. We live in California so it gets very hot. He did this for 2 months and kept adding to it. He then told me the contents were almost liquid and had the consistency of, in his words, slop.

Not good...

He then proceeded to add it to a compost container filled with dirt. I told him I didn't think it was safe because of the gases and stench the scraps were giving off, but wasn't sure.

What do you mean filled with dirt... is it finished compost or soil from your garden or?

Is the compost that he's made so far in fact safe? I told him he should've added the food scraps to the dirt all along, but he kept the scraps separate until it all turned to slop.

We have only fruit and vegetables and coffee grounds in the scraps, nothing else. And now, I see maggots in the compost, which I know aren't a bad thing, but wonder if we should start over and throw this compost out.. Please help us with our dilemma.

What to do with Slop?

I would say don't use your slop compost until it starts to smell good.

Some thoughts... I've asked a few questions because I am not sure exactly what the situation is with the dirt... but

The materials you've been collecting in the bucket are all high nitrogen materials. If you were making regular compost you would want to balance that with some high carbon stuff like shredded fall leaves or some wood pellets.

Also these materials tend to have high moisture so as you have found you end up with slop.

The microbes that can handle these conditions are those that don't need air, anaerobic guys in other words. You've got lots of those because you've got a stinky situation.

The anaerobic microbes are not good guys for your crops. That said if you had an out of the way spot to let the slop sit mixed with soil and perhaps some carbon rich material it would eventually become useful, or at least not harmful.

If you want to do the 5 gallon bucket trick again use bokashi bran with each layer of scraps. The material will get kind of pickled... it will have a smell like sauerkraut, and still needs second treatment of either burying it or composting but it will at least not be a big problem. Here is a link to one type of bokashi bran. Also check our bokashi pages.

Hope this works.


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