We live in Texas. It's been pretty dry the last year, until this past month when it's been super wet. I have two compost piles -- they are made of wooden pallets nailed together. I rotate between them -- dump stuff in one, trying for a good balance, until it's full, then start on the other one while waiting for the first one to be done. I don't turn or otherwise touch it while it's sitting -- I am a lazy composter.
Anyways, the one that was sitting was just sitting for the longest time, not doing anything, but now that we're getting a lot of rain you can see it finally really starting to compost. So no doubt it was too dry to compost properly.
In the past, in the summer, I've tried watering the compost piles because I thought they were too dry. But it didn't seem to help. My theory is that it's because it's tap water and chlorinated and therefore it kills the little bacteria and whatnot that are doing the composting. Do you guys think that's right? Is watering one's compost piles with tap water just pointless?
We have rain water barrels, but not a lot of them, and that's not too useful in Texas where you tend to get a whole lot of rain at once and then not much for months. We have three barrels and that doesn't hold enough water to save for the compost piles.
i agree that chlorinated water probably isn’t real good for compost microorganisms. most chlorine will offgas, though, if water is left for a little while in an open-topped (preferably with lots of water-surface area) container.
I let chlorinated water sit in open containers for a day or so. Much of the chlorine seems to evaporate.
Since I'm in an area that tends to be dry, I line my pallet composters with an old tarp or old heavy plastic that's full of holes. I don't want water to sit in there and go anaerobic, but the liner helps keep the humidity high enough for the compost to work.
I had thought about letting them outgas, but then I thought it would be a pain to have a container of water and then have to haul it over to the compost piles. Then I thought... ah ha! I will take the container to the piles empty and put it on top, then fill it with water. Let the water sit (24 hours?) and then just turn it over and dump it.
Now, however, I'm wondering about mosquitos. We are having our worst year ever, I think, with mosquitoes, and that's saying a lot. I have heard that once the larvae are born that even if you dump the water out they can still keep going in a sort of suspended animation state.
Do you guys think that, due to mosquitoes, leaving this water out even for 24 hours would be a bad idea?
A lot of folks put a chunk of scrap window screen or mosquito netting over their water barrels to keep the little [expletive deleted] from breeding in the water. It's a good idea. Someday I really should get around to it.