Basic Gardening Tips : How to Turn a Compost Pile

All right, you have your compost bin, you’ve
started your compost. One of the big things that people always talk about is how can I
turn my compost. How often do I have to turn my compost? These are all questions that really
have no answer but you do want to try to turn it every once in a while. If you have been
adding your material in a fashion where you have wet organic and dry organic and some
finished compost, turning it will not be as much of an issue. So the way you build your
compost pile is as important as how often or how your turn it. There is some very fancy
aerator that you can buy that twist their way into the pile and all those things. Basically
turning it is a means of bringing oxygen. One of the reasons to turn is that the finished
compost will be at the bottom because obviously you have been adding to the top. But if you
go back to your garden fork, you can just come in and spread material around. All you
are trying to do is make sure that you have a variety of material and that you have spread
it around so that everything will be getting some oxygen. Oxygen and variety are the two
big things for a compost pile. If your compost pile starts to smell, it is because it doesn’t
have any oxygen and then you definitely need to turn it and add some raw material. Leaves,
straw, anything that will help dry it out and keep it from rotting. If it doesn’t have
enough oxygen, it doesn’t decompose. It rots and that is when you get the smell. If you
build it right, you won’t have any smell and you will have beautiful compost within three
to six months.

5 thoughts on “Basic Gardening Tips : How to Turn a Compost Pile

  1. The compost container in this video does not seem well suited for air transfer. Using chicken wire or fencing instead of steel seems like a better idea.

  2. There isn't a difference between decomposing and rotting.

    The difference here is mainly a matter of aerobic vs. anaerobic bacteria.

    Basically, when your pile doesn't have enough oxygen, it created an anaerobic environment (without oxygen). Bacteria that thrive in these conditions will break down the material, although it will break down slower, but they also create really obnoxious odors. What you want is aerobic bacteria, which thrive in the presence of oxygen. Not only do they break down the material faster, but they don't produce those odors.

    One reason for this in a turned pile is too much "wet compost," whether that means the pile is too wet itself, or you've added too much wet/green/nitrogen-rich matter.

    If smelly -> Turn pile, add carbon-rich/brown/dry material and wait a day. The smell will go away.

    That is assuming you didn't add meats, dairy, or fats to the pile. Those just go rancid and smell really bad.

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