By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 8 March 2011)
Compost should get smaller and generate heat. It should be moist (like a damp sponge), though not muddy and waterlogged. Add water if it’s too dry and mix in more nitrogen-rich material (kitchen scraps, fresh-cut grass, etc.). If using an open compost pile, covering it to prevent moisture loss or relocating it to a less sunny spot can be helpful, particularly if you live in a hot, dry region.
If the pile is too small, it may have a warm, moist center but the outer portion will be cold and dry. Add more material and mix it in well to increase the size of the pile.
If the compost is cold and sweet-smelling, add some fruit or vegetable scraps, organic fertilizer, or fresh-cut grass to add nitrogen. Turn the pile to mix in the new ingredients, and add a thin layer of soil on top.
If the compost is soggy, turning it more regularly to aerate it, keeping it covered during the rainy season, and adding more brown material (dry grass or leaves, straw, peat moss, etc.) will often fix the problem.