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What to do When Compost is Too Wet

Posted by Catherine Wainwright, on March 13, 2024.

Composting is generally a simple process, but it can encounter issues such as too much moisture. Wet or soggy compost can hinder the decomposition process by creating an anaerobic environment that slows down microbial activity. Luckily, this is a relatively easy problem to fix. Wet compost is caused by either too little aeration, too much water, or too many greens—or a combination of all three. The following steps are easy solutions that will restore the moisture balance in your compost.

Turn the Compost

A compost pile or bin can be turned periodically to prevent compaction and create air pockets. This process will break up clumps of wet material and redistribute moisture through the compost. Turning also provides an oxygen-rich environment for the microorganisms as they decompose organic material.

Choose from one of the following ways to turn your compost, depending on the composting method, quantity, and your gardening needs:

  • Empty out the composting bin and refill it.
  • Transfer the compost into a new container.
  • Use a garden fork to turn the contents of the pile or bin.

Cover your Compost

A cover is a simple solution to help prevent excess water from entering your compost bin. By using a lid, like the ones on our Garantia compost bins, you can shield your compost from rainfall, which can slow down the decomposition process. The lid not only keeps out moisture but also helps to insulate, trapping heat inside the bin and accelerating decomposition. Our compost bins are designed with easy-filling hatches, allowing you to conveniently add materials while keeping the compost covered.

Nitrogen/Carbon Balance

A healthy compost requires a mix of nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ and carbon-rich ‘browns’. Greens, like kitchen scraps and grass clippings, are quick to decompose and provide moisture and nitrogen. Browns, such as brown leaves, cardboard, and straw, provide energy for microorganisms and create a well-aerated, porous structure. Too many browns can create a compost that is too dry, while too many greens can create too much moisture. In general, a ratio of around 25 parts brown material to one part green material is considered ideal, although this is not an exact science.

If your compost is too wet, avoid adding too many greens, especially large quantities of grass clippings that are particularly wet and prone to compacting. Instead, incorporate shredded paper, straw, cardboard, or wood chips, using a fork to turn and break up your compost pile. Keep an eye on the compost, taking care not to add so many browns that the environment becomes too dry.