Compost Troubleshooting – part one! A dry heap

My Compost Heap Is Too Dry

There are several possible causes for a compost pile being too dry and the best way to sort it out is to first decide the mostly likely cause in your heap and then that can be addressed.

If the heap remains dry or quickly becomes dry again, choose the next most likely cause and follow instructions for addressing that and so on.  Keep trying the solution for the next most likely cause until the problem is solved.  Don't forget to ask fellow composteers for their wisdom too.

Cause 1 –We all add our compost ingredients ‘as they come’ and many are dry sweepings from the garden, dry leaves or dry twiggy prunings.   Solution - A compost heap should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge more or less and so if you find you have a layer of very dry material it pays to just use some water from your water butts to make this layer nice and wet! Mixing the heap will also help.

Cause 2 – Get the greens right! Sometimes we have a glut of one sort of material to add to the heap.  An absence of  or small quantity of ‘greens’  compared with ‘browns’ can lead to a dry heap. Solution - ‘Greens’ are nitrogen rich and release moisture as they decompose. They also help the pile to decompose faster so that it doesn’t have as much time to dry out. Adding more ‘greens’ will help. Alternatively keep your ‘browns’ at bay adding them bit by bit. You could also check that ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ are added in layers and mix them together to ensure the moisture is spread through the heap.

Cause 3 – windy conditions. Our great British weather throws everything at us and when it is windy everything can dry and shrivel. If you are composting in a compost container with slatted sides the air moving through the pile will dry the compost materials surprisingly quickly. Solution – try composting in an enclosed bin like those currently on offer from West Sussex . If this isn’t a solution for you, line your container with something like with unwanted carpet - a good reuse for old carpet too! You will be surprised what a difference it will make to the temperature in the heap as well as the moisture content.

Good luck with solving the 'dry heap' problem - Annie


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Homemade compost does bring with it a great amount of weed seed. How can one reduce or eradicate these unwelcome growths?
06 September 2014 12:28 by System A

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