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Checking Moisture

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You want to keep your entire compost pile damp, but not soggy. Moist piles provide ideal conditions for the organisms that do the work of turning your plant materials into finished compost. Dried out piles take a LONG time to break down.

adding water
covering the compost bin
checking the compost

compost timing: how to tell when it's ready to use
troubleshooting outdoor composting
using your compost
other ways to recycle food scraps

For a downloadable booklet on backyard composting, see current composting literature available for download.

Adding Water photo: adding water

If you are mainly composting yard waste (and therefore you have an abundance of "browns"), you may need to add water.

When adding water, make sure to turn the pile as you spray to evenly coat and soak the material. Leaves should glisten with moisture. Shredded paper should be wet, but not "mushy." During the hot summer months, you may need to add extra water so that your compost pile remains moist and never dries out.

If composting food waste, the "greens" will provide the needed moisture, and the "browns" will soak up some of this moisture and distribute it evenly throughout the bin.

For more information on adding water, see the guide on turning your compost.

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Covering The Compost Bin photo: Covering The Compost Bin

Make sure to replace the cover on your bin, since this will serve to keep pests out, while retaining heat and moisture.

If your pile is dry and the weather forecast calls for rain, you can leave the doors on top of this model open to let the rain in. If you have a different kind of bin, you can just leave the top off while it rains.

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Checking The Compost

As you continue to add and mix organic materials, check on the compost to make sure there is adequate moisture.

When outdoor temperatures are warm, microbial activity increases, speeding up the decomposition process. In winter things slow down, but you can still add materials and occasionally turn your pile.

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