Watering your compost – how to give your compost its correct moisture content.
Watering your compost bin or heap may seem like a rather strange thing to do but by acknowledging your compost is a living breathing ecosystem with millions of microscopic plants and creatures is one step closer to creating the perfect compost. The combination of fungi, invertebrates, insects and bacteria all require food, oxygen and moisture to effectively break down your waste materials to create great compost.
Knowing if your compost has the optimal moisture content is not always easy. Experts recommend a moisture content of about 50% but this will depend on the type of material you are adding to your compost and how broken up it is. Too much water in a compost bin or heap will usually fill all the air gaps within the mix causing anaerobic decomposition creating a smelly slimy sludge. If the compost becomes too dry the compost simply will not decompose with no moisture and zero progress over time.
The best way to ensure the correct moisture content is by comparing your compost to the moisture content of a damp wringed out sponge. It is also important to remember that if you regularly turn your compost you are more likely to allow the moisture content to be high and evenly spread especially if the material is not shredded or finely graded. If the compost is too dry give it a good turn and them water well until it feels damp to the touch. If your compost is too wet try to add more dry course carbon based materials like shredded cardboard paper and straw to gently reduce the moisture content and then give the compost heap a good mix once again.
Getting the moisture content of your compost heap correct is not rocket science but can be tricky to get right and is essential to creating perfect compost. More than anything you will get a good feel for this as time goes on and you become a more experienced compost maker.
Just remember the dampness of a wringed out sponge is optimal and a good mixing of the composting materials and you should not go too far wrong when making compost.