Smelly Worm Composting Bins

“I was wondering if you would have a solution to my neighbours worm farm problem… She has had to move her worm bin away from her house a bit because on hot days it smells. She said that you can really smell the food scraps but only on hot days. Why is that?” ~ Rachael

Hi Rachael,

Increases in temperature generally lead to increases in microbial activity as well (up to a certain point, of course). Bad odours can very often be linked to a lack of oxygen – ie ‘anaerobic’ conditions – typically caused by excess moisture and lack of air flow within the composting system.

When you combine hot temperatures AND anaerobic conditions, things can get REALLY stinky!

If your neighbour keeps their system in a sunny spot, the first thing to do will be to move it to a shady location. A worm bin sitting out in the summer sun – especially a plastic bin with a tight fitting lid – can basically turn into a little oven, which certainly won’t be great for your worms (nor will it help your stink problem any).

Aside from keeping the bin shaded, I would also recommend adding quite a bit of bulky bedding materials, such as shredded paper. This will help to absorb excess moisture and will encourage a lot more airflow inside the bin.

It also might not be a bad idea to cut back on the amount of waste materials being added to the bin. A smelly worm bin is often an indication of overfeeding. When worms are able to process the food fairly quickly it is very rare for bad odours to become an issue. In fact, I’ve actually cured bad odour problems in a ‘normal’ backyard composter by simply adding a bunch of composting worms. 🙂

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