Adding water to your compost bin will keep microbes working at optimum capacity because without the appropriate level of moisture or adding too much H2O will affect what kind of microbes and how they perform decomposing organic material. How do you add Water to Compost?
Water your compost pile once or twice per week by filling a bucket with water and dumping it on the top center of the compost pile the water will absorb into the compost and help keep it moist you can also use a watering can, or garden sprayer to apply water directly onto your pile at a slow evenly pace.
Microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. These Microbes use carbon and nitrogen to grow and reproduce, water to digest materials, and oxygen to breathe.
Why Add Water to Compost
Active microbes need a moist environment to decompose break down and multiply. In an ideal environment, composting materials should be between 40 and 60 percent water. When conditions are too wet, water will fill the pore space needed for air movement, and anaerobic conditions can result. If conditions are too dry, the decomposition rate will slow down. There is a balance needed to keep Microbes aerobic and healthy.
Heat is also required to go along with the water for microorganisms to perform their work. If the Compost pile gets too hot turn it over and adding more water will be necessary to cool the temperatures down. Keeping the temperatures in the pile between 120 and 160 degrees will keep microbes healthy and break down organic material.
Having the right proportions of ingredients in your compost pile will provide the composting microorganisms with the key ingredients carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and moisture they need to break down the organic material into finished compost.
How Often to Water Compost
As a rule of thumb, a Compost pile should be watered at least 3x per week. Watering your compost will regulate the heat balance that would eventually build up. If the compost gets too warm, it may start to rot out and smell or, in extreme cases, even catch on fire. Watering compost helps to prevent these unwanted effects from happening.
Composting proceeds best at a moisture content of 40-60% by weight. At lower moisture levels, microbial activity is limited. At higher moisture levels, the pile is soggy, the gaps in the pile normally filled with oxygen, fill with water and the pile becomes too dense to support aerobic bacteria another organisms process is likely to become anaerobic giving way to foul-smelling undesirable bacteria. When you are choosing and mixing your compost ingredients, that is the time to measure the moisture content.
The best method to test the moisture content of the Compost pile is to put on a pair of gloves and pick up a handful of compost and squeeze it. If water gushes out, it’s too wet. If you can’t squeeze out any water, the pile is too dry.
It should be about the consistency of a wet sponge that has been wrung out. Adding a few food fillers to your compost pile on a regular basis can also help it control the right amount of water content for proper decomposition.
If the pile does not decrease in size or generate heat, the composting pile might need some help. If the pile is dry, add water mixing thoroughly. If the pile is wet and muddy, spread it in the sun and add dry material until the moisture content is balanced again.
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References: EPA-Composting at Home