Compost troubleshooting - part two! A wet heap

My compost heap is too wet

Sometimes too much moisture in the heap means a wet, slimy and smelly heap - yuk! not a good look. There is no need to despair though the remedies are easy and with patience and a bit of tlc your heap will be back to its sweet smelling self in next to no time

Just as with a dry heap  there are several causes for a compost heap to become too wet but fortunately there are lots of compost converts out there who have had the same problem at some time or another.  Read on for causes and solutions to help remedy the problem.  Remember you may need to try more than one solution to fix the problem, just keep trying - it shouldn't take long.

Cause 1 - the compost is uncovered.  If it has been raining (more like 'when' it has been raining in GB!) and your pile is not covered the contents will become sopping wet.  When compost is really wet like this the beneficial microbes cannot do the job of breaking down the organic matter because water replaces air in the compost heap. Instead the pile decays into a sludgy mess.  Solution - cover your heap to prevent more water making it even soggier.  If you have a compost bin like the ones currently on offer to West Sussex householders, ensure the lid is firmly in place.  If you have a heap with an open top try covering it with an old piece of carpet.  This will help keep rain out and heat in as well as being a great re-use of old carpet.

Cause 2 - too many greens.  Green ingredients like grass clippings, organic kitchen waste and old flowers are nitrogen-rich and naturally contain a lot of moisture.  If too many are added on top of each other the  green/brown compost ingredients balance is upset. Solution - add some browns!  Shredded newspaper, straw, small woody prunings will do the job. Mix them with the wet, green material to help get the drying out process started.

Cause 3 - too little air.  When a heap becomes compacted the moisture is trapped, beneficial microbes cannot do their work and the heap stagnates. Solution - Turn the pile. Turning the pile will introduce air helping it to dry out and providing oxygen for those beneficial microbes to get them working again.  Some composteers like to turn their heap on a regular basis - turning does add air and can result in faster compost production,  but it isn't necessary.  Just give it a bit of a mix every now and then.

 Remember a good rule of thumb for your heap is that it should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge - Annie.


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