Good compost helps build a healthy garden. We don’t often have the perfect conditions to produce good composting material. Let’s look at some of the common mistakes associated with compost and the easiest fixes.
Compost is a great way to make your garden grow. However composting can be challenging, especially if compost is too wet or dry. In this blog post, we will go over how to fix common compost problems so you can start composting and growing healthy plants today!
How Wet Should Compost Be?
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How do I know if my compost is too wet?
The compost pile should be evenly moist, not wet and soupy. If compost is too wet, add dried leaves or straw to absorb excess moisture.
Compost, as we all know, is a great way to make your garden grow! But it can be challenging, especially if the compost pile is too wet or dry.
The perfect amount of water for the compost pile should be evenly moist but not soupy. If the composter is too wet add dried leaves or straw to absorb any excess moisture and keep it at an even level of moisture. Also, if it is too wet the compost smells.
How do I fix compost that is too wet?
To fix that compost heap that is too wet, add dry leaves or straw to absorb the excess moisture. If the compost piles have dried out but needs water, soak it with a garden hose and then watch for signs of improving conditions before watering again.
What are some common causes of wet compost?
Some composting mistakes that can cause the moisture level of the compost pile to be wet include:
+ Mixing compost with water well before it’s composted (leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds)
+ Wetting compost and letting the compost pile sit for too long before you use it
+ Adding too much compost carbon-rich materials to a compost pile or bin
+ Wetting compost at the wrong time of year (winter)
** Carbon-rich materials are usually referred to as “browns”, and nitrogen-rich materials are called “greens”.
What do I do if my compost is too wet?
The good news is that you can manage these mistakes and end up with a dry compost heap by doing the following:
+ Scraping off any wet spots in your pile or bin; adding a layer of dry material, such as leaves, straw, shredded paper, and cardboard scraps; turning the mixture over to speed drying
+ Using less soil and more dry materials
+ Adding carbon-rich materials like browns to the pile such as leaves, straw, shredded paper. Brown materials absorb water; greens add oxygen for aerobic composting (ex: coffee grounds, grass clippings)
+ Using a cover that will trap air or adding a wet covering layer of bedding material like hay or chopped-up cardboard in order to keep out rain
+ Adding a small amount of dry material like straw or leaves on top, and turning the compost pile over to get air moving in it
+ Wait for winter when there’s less precipitation so that you don’t have as much wetness.
How often should you moisten compost?
A common question that’s asked is how often you should moisten compost. As a rule of thumb, it can be helpful to think about the moisture content in your soil and take into account what type of composter you are using. If you have an open compost pile or windrow (essentially just stacked leaves), the leaves will retain more moisture than a closed compost system.
If you are using a closed system (such as a compost tumbler, or compost bins) you can moisten it every few weeks.
If you are using an open compost pile, moisten it every couple of weeks. Be mindful that the compost will dry out faster in this type of system because there is no protection from the elements.
It’s best to monitor how wet your compost feels by giving a quick squeeze – if water seeps out then add more water.
How much water should I add to my compost pile?
You can give your compost pile a liquid boost by sprinkling or spraying water on it periodically throughout the year, even during winter.
It’s especially important for piles that have what we call “sticky” ingredients-think plant stems, rotted fruit, vegetable peelings, and leaves of all types. These ingredients tend to be denser than other types and need some extra moistening to keep them from turning into hard clumps that will impede the decomposition process. Kitchen waste for the compost should be carefully sorted also.
The amount of water you use will depend on the size of your compost pile and its composition–plant matter versus animal waste, for example–so there should be no set measure as such. Just slosh water over it every once in a while!
Moisture is an important factor in the composting process. If your compost pile or bin is too wet, you can scrape off excess material and add dry materials to absorb any excess moisture.
You should also be mindful of what type of system you are using and pay attention to how much water your composter needs on a regular basis. The best way to keep track of this would be by giving it a quick squeeze – if water seeps out then more water will be needed!