What to Do When Your Compost is Too Wet

Peter asks about wet compost piles:

“We have just come through an extraordinary monsoon event in which we have received more than our average annual rainfall in one week.  This has been quite devastating for many. Two people have drowned and hundreds of homes have been flooded. We are thankful to God that our family have suffered no loss of life or property.

In the midst of this tragedy, I have a very, very minor concern. My compost heaps have been inundated with over a metre of rain and have become very sloppy and slimy.  Is this okay? Should I be turning them and letting them dry out a bit?

Can I keep piling on the abundance of lawn clippings and prunings that have resulted from the rain?

In future, should I be covering my compost heaps to keep the rain off them?”

I answer in depth in last night’s Goodstream:

My answers, in short, were to:

Make Sure the Pile Can Drain

Get that pile up off the ground, ensuring that it’s not just sitting in an undrainable puddle. If you have a hardware cloth-sided bin or something that allows for the pile to be up – like a typical pallet bin – it will keep the water from pooling.

This lets lots of drainage happen:

If you’re composting inside an undrained bin, it will stay wet, sloppy and anaerobic.

I also stated:

If Your Compost is Too Wet, Air it Out

You can put a tarp by your pile and fork out all the material onto it, like this:

Spread it out, let it get some air, then fork it back into the bin after it’s dried a little. And if you’re always getting too much water, you may want to

Put A Roof Over Your Compost Pile

You can do something like this if you’re feeling fancy, or you can just throw a tarp over your pile. If it’s already wet, however, make sure you’re not keeping evaporation from taking place. Don’t cover completely, just cover the top so the rain doesn’t add more water. Having a roof over the pile can be as simple as throwing a sheet of plywood over your bin or as complicated as building a metal roof.

Obviously, I opt for the former. I want compost to make me money, not cost me money.

I’ll go live again this evening, so watch for that. I’ll be taking questions, as usual, so if you have a gardening question, stop on by.

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