I've got a pile of hot compost going which consists primarily of:
- Straw (about 75% by volume)
- Kitchen Scraps
- Rabbit Manure
- Fall leaves and grass clippings
At the moment it's giving off a pretty decent ammonia odor when I turn it. In fact the straw (which was out in the rain and beginning to break down before it was even added to the pile), had an ammonia smell even as I was building the pile.
The broad consensus seems to be that ammonia smells indicate too much greens in the pile, i.e., a high nitrogen levels. As ready as I am to accept that this may be the case, I'm a bit confused about why the straw alone would have been smelling of ammonia since it's suppose to have something like a 75:1 ratio (C:N), which is much lower in nitrogen then the recommended 30:1 for Berkeley compost.
To complicate matters further I've just read this article which seems to contradict itself on the topic of browns and straw in particular:
Green material can be grass clippings, old flowers, green prunings, weeds, fresh garbage and fruit and vegetable wastes. Dried material can be dead, fallen leaves, dried grass, straw and somewhat woody materials from prunings.
Any material which is cut green and is allowed to dry is considered green.
Huh? Straw is definitely cut green and allowed to dry - yet it's explicitly listed as "green" and not "dried" (brown).
I was thinking of amending the pile with some very carbon heavy substance like wood chips but before I do that I'd like to understand more about why this might be happening.
UPDATE: Here's an alternate link to the pdf mentioned above since some users had trouble accessing it: http://se-59312.dev.zuma-design.com/29958.pdf