NO MORE COMPOST! (A really gross story)

Please, I beg of you, if you have a weak stomach, do NOT read on.

Still here? Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Those of you who know me, know that I have recently moved into the house of my recently deceased mother-in-law to raise her two young sons. There are several procedures done in this house that I have no experience with, but I am trying to keep up with them. For example, the garbage is a big one. Where I come from, when something is garbage, you throw it in a garbage bag and eventually take it out of the house. Here, they practice recycling and compost.

Now, it took me a while, but I got the hang of the recycling thing, and I don’t mind it. Compost, on the other hand, seems a bit disgusting, and rather pointless. The concept is, you take all food scraps (ie peelings, leftovers, cores, etc), place them in this bucket on the back porch, and then … well, there is supposed to be something else done with them, but nobody has made it clear to me exactly what that something is. I think compost is supposed to be good for the garden, but I am not a gardener, and neither are the kids.

So mostly the bucket stays by the door, getting more and more stinky icky things being put into it.

Cut to Sunday night. I’m getting the boys’ lunches ready for school the next day. They’re having carrot sticks. I take the carrot peelings out to the bucket and lift the lid. There is a bag of rotting plums on the lid (not placed there by me), so I am balancing the plums on the lid as I lift it, holding the screen door open with my foot, and trying to put the carrot peelings into the bucket. Understandably, some get dropped. Not wanting to leave them on the porch, I hold the lid with my left hand and start to pick up the pieces.

I start feeling icky warmness on my left hand. I pep-talked myself, imagining some moldy liquid goo dripping onto my hand from the lid, saying “Just hold on, it’ll be over in a second.” Then I realize the icky warmness is not moving like liquid goo, but more like something alive. ANTS! I think to myself, and at that point I am done the cleanup, whisking my hand quickly away to run inside and clean it off. I am really grossed out at this point.

I look at my hand. There are no ants on my hand. Not a one! Instead, there are dozens of these small, white, pulsing worm-like creatures - perhaps baby maggots? I freak out and rush to the sink, turning on scalding hot water to drown the fuckers. My heart is racing and I am just revolted beyond belief.

The next day, I threw the entire bucket in the garbage bag and took it down to the curb (thank God it was garbage day!). This process required rubber gloves (which I had) and a gas mask (which sadly, I didn’t). I have never been so shaky in my life. Not from fear, but from pure disgust. Disgust so large that it almost suffocated me.

I am not usually affected by smells much, but I was absolutely accosted as I attempted to put the bucket into the garbage bag, having to stop a few times to catch my breath. Unfortunately, the deeper I gasped, the more of the putrid air made its way into my lungs, so I had to move a few feet away to breathe properly - and then start all over when I got back. I finally had to take a deep breath and hold it, while the rancid air forced tears from my eyes till the job was done.

I almost feel sorry for the garbage men who had to take that bag away. It’s gone now, and I’m getting a bigger garbage can today, to hold ALL the garbage. No more compost at our house.

oh how I hear you!!!

when my MIL passed away and we moved into her home, I found ‘what you had crawling on your hands’ in the kitchen drawers, in the food cupboard, in the dry goods, etc…
I HATE maggots…

Please start composting again, but do it properly this time. The world needs more good topsoil.

First of all, don’t compost any meat or dairy products. You shouldn’t get maggots if you stick to vegetable products. Rinse your eggshells too, before putting them in.

As well, empty the bucket into the compost bin in the yard frequently (at least once a week). If there isn’t one then you can easily buy or make one, and you should chew out the person who originally started the compost procedure. Don’t dump it directly into the garden.

I’ve been composting for ten years and I’ve never had anything worse in my compost bucket than a little mold during the hot, humid, summer.

To add to Suo Na’s excellent advice:

It can be difficult to compost only kitchen waste. It is too wet and solid and compacts. When this happens you invite anaerobic bacteria to the process of breaking down the material. It will stink. If you add layers of grass clippings and leaves in between layers of vegetable scraps you will have more air spaces, which will encourage a nice, nonsmelly, aerobic process. For this same reason, you want to turn the pile at least every week-mix things up and aerate it.

And, to add a bit further - if you don’t have enough grass clippings or leaves, shredded newspapers (even hand shredded) will do the trick. Stay away from the glossy inserts; just use the newsprint.

it is so nice to see Dopers that are into composting. Please Brunetter start again. Done properly compost has very little bad smells to it. I saw this post after doing the hardest part of using a compost pile, turning it. Do some research, ask others that compost for advise. Turning hard, sticky clay soil into soft fluffy easly tilled dirt was not an over night job, but is was worth it. YOU are doing your part for our planet.

I am a avid composter/recycler. Please continue to compost. The others have made some good points. I have a bucket outside my door, and empty the bucket every night after dishes. I have never seen a maggot or anything else that made me loose my supper. My veggie garden has been doing so much better since I started composting.

No, I will not be composting again. Let me explain why (again):

  • Brunetter: *
    “Compost is supposed to be good for the garden, but I am not a gardener, and neither are the kids.”

  • cool chic *
    “My veggie garden has been doing so much better since I started composting.”

Hmm, good argument.

Why just pick on me!?! Just stating the facts…if you don’t want to compost, it is just plain easy…DON’T. I won’t get into the long speach of landfills…just thought mentioning my garden was much shorter than mentioning that aspect of it. Every two weeks I put out half a can of garbage for the collectors…Now don’t get me wrong…I am not a tree hugger…not that there is anything wrong with that, however I just don’t think it is fair of us to keep polluting our world. And another strong argument…I have to pay for every can that I put out at my curbside!

I think a few of the others above me also argued the garden fact…If you don’t want it, mail it my way! I LOVE compost!

I am so appalled by this story that I do not know what to write…where to begin. I’m not appalled by your stinky garbage. I’m appalled by the fact that you do not and will not compost.

The waste stream in this country is made up of a large percentage of vegetable and yard waste. It makes no sense whatsoever to load that stuff on to a truck, waste enormous amounts of fuel trucking it to a landfill, and depositing it in a landfill where it will take up large amounts of space, and will probably never rot properly under the anaerobic conditions.

By composting, you remove that material from the waste stream, resulting in enormous savings in fuel, landfill space, and the associated pollution.

And if you’re not a gardener, you can dump the finished compost under a tree or a bush or something. At least you will be giving back to the soil in some way.

We, as Americans, are so used to seeing our garbage “disappear.” You put it out, the garbageman takes it away in the dead of night, end of story. Well, that’s not the end of the story. The garbage does not disappear. You have no excuse for not doing your part to reduce the waste stream. (Reduce, reuse, recycle)

Composting is easy. Each household has their own system. This is ours:

We keep a metal bowl sitting on the stove, and dump stuff into it. We compost vegetable scraps, eggshells, teabags and coffee grounds, stale bread. We do not compost salty stuff or meat scraps. Every few days we dump the bowl into our backyard composter. I also dump all garden waste in there. Every so often, I add some shredded newspaper to balance the compost. I also stick a pitchfork in there and stir it around sometimes. My compost never smells.

I really enjoy composting. But I’d do it even if I hated it, because it is the right thing to do.

If you want your compost to get processed a lot quicker, get some composting worms. I have a large coomposting bin in my garden. It has a lid, no bottom and stands about a metre high. The worms level predominantly inside the vertical stack of decomposing material, back can escape into the ground when the bin gets too hot in the sun. The worms breed like crazy, hence they eat the contents of the bin in less than half the time it would take to decompose with bacteria alone.

BTW, the final product is just as good as manure when used as fertiliser.