Thursday, April 24, 2008

Compost moisture

compost moisture
Originally uploaded by tlbaraka
And the compost marches on. Actually the compost marches back and forth with each turn. It has been developing for about 12 days now and some big changes have taken place. For one it is getting easy to turn as the big banana leaves have broken down into smaller pieces and are no longer getting caught together. We only saw the wool twice on this mornings turn( we put a whole sheep's worth of wool into the pile). The material has a nice dark brown colour to it, not black. Black would indicate an anaerobic compost. There is no offensive smell. The pile seems to be maintaining its initial volume. Often when a pile is too hot it will shrink in size. In all compost piles bulk carbon is gassed off, however, this lost volume can be replaced by air space and structure if the pile is well turned and oxygenated.

Today we also performed a quick check to ensure proper moisture content.
1. Take a handful of compost.
2. Squeeze as hard as you can.

If water drips out of the compost and off of your hand the pile is too wet.
If no water appears the pile is too dry.
If water just appears, but does not drip, between your fingers and on the surface of the compost the moisture content is just right.

Notice in the picture the moisture between the pinky and ring fingers and below the tip of the middle finger. This pile seems to have just the right amount of moisture content.

In the next post we cover pile shape and its effects on the composting process.

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