Soil and Compost forum: How often do I need to add water to my compost?

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Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 23, 2017 10:11 AM CST
Hi there! Complete compost beginner here. I started a compost with just some excess potting soil I wasn't using and have been adding all of my produce scraps to it and dead leaves from my houseplants (of which there are many) and what not. I don't have any grass at my house (mostly just drought-tolerant landscaping as I'm in Los Angeles), so I don't have regular trimmings to add to it. The compost dries out FAST. I assume this is because my entire yard is bathed in sunlight on a daily basis. I find that I need to hose down the entire compost bin fairly regularly. Does this make sense? I only check on it once a week or sometimes every once every 10 days, as I have a small compost bin in the kitchen that I keep my scraps in until it's full and ready to be transported outside to the big bin. At this time I usually use a big shovel to turn the compost a bunch as the bin that I have doesn't have it's own mechanism for turning. Should I be watering more often? It's usually fairly dry by the time I get to it. Is every few days often enough? And how much water should I add when I do? Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. And to clarify, it's an 80 gallon compost bin with both top lid access and a bottom door that pulls up so that one can shovel out the good stuff when I've finally managed to make some of it. The bottom is open and I've staked it into the ground for stability.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Aug 23, 2017 10:21 AM CST
You want to keep your compost moist, not soggy but not dry. It is the living organisms that break down the compost, and they will die if the pile is allowed to dry out. So you water if as often as needed to keep it moist.
Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 23, 2017 10:35 AM CST
Seedfork said:You want to keep your compost moist, not soggy but not dry. It is the living organisms that break down the compost, and they will die if the pile is allowed to dry out. So you water if as often as needed to keep it moist.


So in my climate, every day might actually not be out of the question, I suppose?
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Aug 23, 2017 11:25 AM CST
If it takes watering it everyday to keep it moist then you might want to water it everyday, or you might consider finding additional sources of compost materials that will retain more moisture.
Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 23, 2017 11:31 AM CST
Seedfork said:If it takes watering it everyday to keep it moist then you might want to water it everyday, or you might consider finding additional sources of compost materials that will retain more moisture.


Pardon my ignorance, but can you give me some examples?
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Aug 23, 2017 11:34 AM CST
Coffee grounds from coffee shops, bagged grass clippings from other people's lawns, shredded leaves etc.
Edited to add: Maybe even some soil.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Aug 23, 2017 11:38 AM (+)]
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Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 23, 2017 12:49 PM CST
Seedfork said:Coffee grounds from coffee shops, bagged grass clippings from other people's lawns, shredded leaves etc.
Edited to add: Maybe even some soil.


Awesome, thanks! I put my coffee grounds in it regularly and do add leaves fairly often, but I could consider asking neighbors for their grass clippings!
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Aug 23, 2017 1:52 PM CST
If you are unable to get any grass clippings, you always can throw in a handful of fertilizer (without pesticides and herbicides)
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
[Last edited by crawgarden - Aug 30, 2017 4:51 PM (+)]
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Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 23, 2017 1:53 PM CST
crawgarden said:If you are unable to get any grass clippings, always can throw in a handful of fertilizer (without pesticides and herbicides)


Oh interesting, do you have one you might suggest? Thanks!
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Aug 23, 2017 1:56 PM CST
10-10-10 would work, any brand that is just strictly fertilizer.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 25, 2017 11:17 AM CST
Another novice question: I found some mushroom spores in one of my indoor plants and pulled them all out, along with most of the top layer of soil. Is this okay to put into my compost, or should I avoid doing so?

Additionally, what about whole limes (including rinds) and plums (including pits)? I tried googling but couldn't determine if the pits and rinds are considered green or brown. Help!
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Aug 25, 2017 11:47 AM CST
Yes, feel free to add the soil and the mushrooms to the compost pile. I would chop or smash the limes just so they would decompose faster and you don't want to overload your small amount of compost with too much citrus (I think that is mostly because earthworms don't appreciate it) so if you don't have any earthworms I am not sure it would matter too much. Plums with the pits should be fine, they might actually sprout. If I were limited to a small container (80 gal.) I would want to load it with things that would decompose in a hurry, that way I could cycle thru more materials. Things like pits, and rinds may take a while to decompose. The rinds I would think would be greens, and the pits would be browns but don't worry too much about that with the small amounts of those you will be using. High carbon items are browns and low carbon items are considered greens, I really don't know why they are not just referred to as high and low carbon items instead of greens and browns. If you are going to throw in a lot of slow, hard to decompose Items, you may want to build a sifter of some sort. That way you can use the finished compost and sift out the non decomposed items.
Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 25, 2017 12:00 PM CST
Thanks! I'm going to leave out the rinds and pits for now seeing as I am still trying to get a productive compost going without grass clippings...I need to figure out another way to generate more "greens" - I'm thinking I'll have to go to Starbucks and ask for coffee grounds.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 30, 2017 11:56 AM CST
You could try covering the top with something so the sun does not shine directly on it.
When I start a new compost pile up north, I have two, I always dig out the bottom of the container down about four inches.
That way water does not run off and the bottom is cooler and always moist in very hot dry weather.
Los Angeles
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krystenr1
Aug 30, 2017 4:31 PM CST
RpR said:You could try covering the top with something so the sun does not shine directly on it.
When I start a new compost pile up north, I have two, I always dig out the bottom of the container down about four inches.
That way water does not run off and the bottom is cooler and always moist in very hot dry weather.


My 80 gallon bin does have a lid on I thankfully! It just gets really hot and dry here so even with the lid, it dries out.

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