My pile is composting very slowly
This can be due to a variety or combination of factors, such as: your pile may be too small, too dry, too wet, or isn’t getting enough air. Add materials, turn the compost over and check to see how wet it is. You should be able to squeeze just a few drops of water out of your compost, like a damp sponge.
My compost pile isn’t hot
Your pile should hold heat. If it’s not it may be too small or too dry. Add green materials and check to see that it is wet enough. If your pile has been around for awhile it may be finished compost — it should look like dark, crumbly soil if it’s finished “cooking” and ready to add to your garden!
My compost pile smells like ammonia
The pile may be too wet; turn it over to add oxygen. The pile may have too much nitrogen-rich “green” material; add brown materials, such as dead leaves, newspaper or sawdust.
My pile attracts animals like raccoons and mice
Do not put meat, fish, oil or dairy products in your pile. Keep other food wastes buried in the middle of the pile and covered with yard wastes or paper. It may help to have an enclosed bin with a lid. This is a warning sign that your bin is too smelly and may eventually attract larger animals, like bears, into your backyard.
My pile attracts insects, like flies
Be sure to bury your food waste deep in the middle of the pile. Cover these wastes with grass, leaves or damp newspaper.
There are large pieces in my compost that don’t seem to be decomposing
Break down waste into smaller pieces, particularly woody materials and egg shells, before adding them to the bin. You can also use these materials as the base layer for your next compost pile.
Find more resources and answers to other questions from the Montana DEQ website.
Compost Demonstration Garden
The Compost Demonstration Garden has moved from the landfill to the FVCC campus. It has a wide variety of different home compost bins and information about the pros and cons of each style.
To find the Compost Garden
From Hutton Ranch Rd: At the roundabout behind Walmart, take the exit to the east. It will become a dirt road almost immediately. Follow the road around and stay to the right once you enter the logger sports area. Take a right onto the next dirt road and drive south until the road widens. You’ll see the Compost Garden and shed to your left. Click here for a map to the Compost Garden. Note: the gate to the logger sports area is locked after 5:00pm and on most weekends.
If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, please contact the Citizens for a Better Flathead at (406) 756-8993.
Become a Master Gardener!
The Flathead County MSU Extension Office offers a Master Gardener class annually. Find more information here.
Go back to Compost 101