drying out a compost pile

Asked January 4, 2019, 7:52 AM EST

Folks - I had been turning my compost pile every several days but we went away for about a week. It rained heavily while we were gone and the pile mostly turned to mud. Since we returned I have been turning it several times a day and spreading it out when I could but the pile is still mostly muddy clumps and there is a faint odor of anaerobic activity. This happened once before when we went away and I had to work with the pile for some months before it turned aerobic again. Is there something I can do to air out the pile, maybe adding something to break it up? Thank you as always.

Howard County Maryland compost

2 Responses

Spreading the materials out to increase access to air and sun is about the best you can do. If the pile has a significant amount of food scraps or manure you might try mixing in straw or shredded newspaper to help dry it out. Covering the spread out materials with straw will help reduce odors.

Our area had 6 ft. of rain in 2018 raising groundwater levels leaving many yards and gardens saturated with water. If the ground in your composting area is saturated with water it may be months before it dries out.

jt - thank you very much for the speedy and very helpful reply. My compost pile is on a mild slope, so it doesn't suffer from waterlogged ground too much. I knew we had set a record, but I had no idea that we had gotten that much rain. Wow!