As a result of my real interest in this topic, I have spoken with many gardeners throughout the years. Many of them argue that rotating a compost pile is pointless. They feel that there are much more incredible things they could be doing with their life than using a pitchfork and wasting precious minutes on something that is really trash.
According to one writer, you do not even need to flip your pile as long as the brown and green components are balanced. Is he correct? If not, how often should compost be turned and how much time should you spend on this usually unpleasant task? I posed myself this Hamlet-esque issue a few years ago — Overturning the compost or not; that is the question. Let us examine what I have learned since then.
How To Transform A Difficult Task Into A Pleasure?
The trick is to get the best outcomes with the least amount of work feasible. In general, the amount of time required to manage your compost pile is dependent on the method you employ. The most convenient option is probably to invest in a high-quality compost tumbler. They often have a handle, which simplifies the process of rotating the material.
Otherwise, you must use a pitchfork to turn the pile on a regular basis. Because the purpose of overturning is to increase aeration and decomposition in your heap, you will get the greatest results by balancing the components and doing this unpleasant and laborious task more often.
Why Is Compost Turning Critical?
Essentially, if you want high-quality compost, you must initiate decomposition, a process that cannot occur without microorganisms. There are two kinds of composting bacteria: aerobes (which need oxygen to function) and anaerobes (which do not require oxygen to survive) (they work without oxygen).
Which ones you should promote will vary according on the kind of composting you like (aerobic in the piles, heaps and tumblers; or anaerobic in the sealed-containers). Given that the majority of us choose to create compost heaps or use tumblers, it is obvious that we need to promote aerobic bacteria.
Composting in anaerobic conditions
Composting in an aerobic environment
A consequence of microbial activity
A consequence of microbial activity
Biodegradable materials + water
Methane + carbon dioxide + hydrogen sulfide + energy
Compounds of organic matter + oxygen + water
CO2 + water + energy
Turning (aerating) your compost will determine whether you get compost in a month or eight months. The main cause for the pile’s center’s slower decomposition and cooler temperatures is anaerobic conditions.
There are many critical reasons to stir the compost pile on a regular basis:
Regular overturning re-heats the pile, maintains an aerobic condition inside it, and therefore accelerates the composting process.
Microbe overconsumption – Overturning the pile will mix it and create an excellent mixture of undepleted material and healthy bacteria. Returning them to the middle of your heap will assist the process in continuing.
Compaction – Overturning creates essential passages for moisture and air to avoid the pile being too compressed.
Reduce the humidity level – Your objective is to fill the pockets inside the pile with air rather than water.
Overheating prevention – Regular overturning maintains the optimal temperature range for decomposition by spreading hot compost from the center to the borders of the pile.
Elimination of foul scents – Turning the pile eliminates the composting material’s foul aromas.
The Advantages of Composting
The following are some advantages that justify turning the pile whenever required.
Increase the Oxygen Concentration
The aerobic microorganisms that decompose the compost keep the pile warm. Because this bacterium need oxygen to thrive, rotating the compost pile creates room for additional oxygen to enter.
Additionally, rotating the compost pile prevents it from matting. Why is this significant? Matting, on the other hand, prevents oxygen from reaching the compost particles and produces a muddle.
Matting may promote the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which will give your compost an unpleasant odor. Worse still, these bacteria decompose at a slower rate than aerobic bacteria. This scenario may be avoided by rotating your compost often to maintain enough oxygenation.
Increased Surface Area
By turning the compost, you increase the material’s surface area. Turning the compost provides for increased oxygenation and speeds up the decomposition process.
Another way to expedite the process of composting is to shred the compost material as finely as possible. Are you getting the picture? You have the ability to accelerate the process if you can offer a big surface area. As a result, avoid adding large trash pieces to your compost container to maintain it roomy.
A squeeze test may be used to determine if your compost is dry or moist. Squeeze the compost in your palms and see how much water is released. If one or two droplets of water are obtained, the moisture level is acceptable.
However, if your compost pile is moist, the water enters the tiny crevices rather than the air, hastening the completing process.
By turning the compost, you may eliminate excess moisture that has accumulated in the pile. Alternatively, if the compost pile is dry, you may flip it over while adding water or grass between the layers.
This is the point at when all your effort pays off and you achieve your objective. Therefore, if you want your compost to be ready quickly, be sure to stir it frequently.
Maintain Your Health
Are you too unmotivated to go to the gym? No worries; stirring the compost is also beneficial for physical activity. You may maintain an active lifestyle if you are diligent about rotating your compost pile.
Turning your compost is a wonderful idea, particularly if you want a faster outcome.
However, it is only helpful if you know how to turn the compost properly. You need not be concerned, as we will provide tried and true methods to assist you.
When and How Often Should Your Compost Be Turned Over
Regrettably, there is no set guideline for when and how often to stir a compost pile throughout the decomposition process. It is mainly determined by:
The pile’s size
The proportion of brown to green materials
The heap’s relative humidity
The rate at which components are dried
The emergence of offensive odors
In general, if your compost pile is directly on the ground, you will not go wrong if you turn it every three days until the core of the heap stops heating.
Possible Compost Pile Troubleshooting And How To Resolve The Issue
Possibly the reason
What are my options?
A revolting stink emanating from your compost pile
Inadequate oxygenation inside the pile or excessive moisture
Turn your compost pile over and provide some air to it.
Your pile’s core is too dry.
Humidity is low near the pile’s core.
While turning over your compost pile, add some water.
The pile’s very warm and moist core
Your pile is insufficiently large
Add fresh ingredients to the pile and combine them with the existing ones.
The delicious aroma of the pile without the need to boil it
Add fresh grass clippings or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
However, turning on a daily basis is not a good choice either. It has the potential to impair the growth of actinomycetes and fungi required for the composting process. Simultaneously, excessive overturning of the heap will prevent it from heating effectively.
A compost thermometer is a great tool for monitoring the temperature of your pile. It should be pushed towards the middle of the mound. Avoid disturbing the stack until the temperature in its core reaches at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.5 C). When the temperature drops to about 100 F (37.8 C), it is time to turn your compost.
How to Compost Compost?
If you believe that some kind of rocket technology produces high-quality compost, you are wrong. It just requires proper care and maintenance, which leads in great outcomes.
However, before turning the compost pile, it is necessary to inspect it. If it is completely dry, add some water and re-create the pile. If it is damp or smells musty, you should add some brown items such as dried leaves and cardboard trimmings to get the required appearance.
There are many techniques for turning compost; pick one that is appropriate for your equipment and the size of your compost pile.
Tumbler for Compost
Utilize a compost tumbler for the most efficient and rapid results. If you just have a little mound of compost, this is the tool for you. Simply load the compost tumbler with trash, crank the handle, and let the tumbler to perform the mixing for you.
Fork in the Garden
If you have a large pile of compost, you should do this job using a garden fork. This technique takes more effort, but you will quickly discover that the effort is well worth it. Bring the inner portion of the pile to the outside with the garden fork and vice versa.
It is OK if you accidentally shatter the pile while attempting to flip it over. It is beneficial to have a broken heap; this allows for greater mixing and all of the previously stated advantages.
Aerator for Compost
Another wonderful item that makes the work more enjoyable is the compost aerator. It is a long rod that ends with spikes. If you want to turn compost with the least amount of energy possible, the compost aerator is the ideal option.
Simply dig the tool into the compost material and twist it down. Then, take it out, leaving a bottom layer of mixed and aerated compost. You do not even have to bend to turn the compost if you use a compost aerator. Additionally, this equipment is simple to clean and saves time.
Aeration of Compost
The home gardener’s options for rotating the compost pile are usually restricted to a composting tumbler or manual turning with a pitchfork or shovel. Both of these approaches are effective. Typically, a compost tumbler is purchased as a complete device that just requires the user to spin the barrel on a regular basis. Additionally, there are DIY instructions for constructing your own compost tumbler accessible on the Internet.
For gardeners who prefer an open compost pile, rotating a single compost bin is as simple as putting a shovel or fork into the pile and physically flipping it over, much like tossing a salad. With sufficient room, some gardeners opt for a twin or triple compost bin, which enables them to stir the compost by transferring it from one bin to the next. These multi-bin composters are convenient since they ensure that the pile is properly mixed from top to bottom.
How Frequently Should Your Compost Tumbler Be Turned
I like to use a compost tumbler since its design facilitates compost pile overturning. If you are one of those individuals who dislikes or is unable to turn the heap on a regular basis, a high-quality tumbler is an excellent option for you.
By buying one, you will save tedious labor and protect your clothes from being soiled. The whole procedure is pleasant, clean, and very easy, owing to the use of a handy hand crank.
There are many practical reasons to tumble your compost:
Prevent excessive moisture – These enclosed containers often overheat and retain an excessive amount of moisture. Turning your tumbler often will help keep the temperature of the contents at a comfortable level and protect the compost from excessive humidity, which is particularly important if you add enough dark materials.
Maintain a well-aerated pile — While aerobic bacteria have a sufficient supply of oxygen, they will perform properly in terms of waste decomposition. The only method to aerate the tumbler’s contents is to spin it often.
It resolves composting problems – Overturning your compost is the most effective method to reduce its foul odor and keep pests away from your components.
According to experts, you should flip your tumbler at least twice or three times each week. Avoid spinning it everyday to allow your compost to reach an appropriate temperature and fully decompose. Too much tumbling will just disperse heat and will not provide the desired effect.
Additionally, the manner in which you spin your tumbler has an effect on the substance within. It should not be rotated once. Swing it back and forth a few times to evenly distribute the contents. Models of tumblers with an axle are excellent since they aid in breaking up the material as they spin.
Composting On Special Occasions
Adding New Content
Each time you add fresh material to your compost pile, it will gradually cool down. According to what I have read, frequent overturning of your compost will aid in the rapid absorption of fresh material without delaying the decomposition process.
That means that even if you add kitchen waste everyday, you can be certain that it will soften and vanish quickly towards the middle of the pile. By and large, the more nitrogen in your trash, the faster it will dissolve into the old stuff. If you constantly add significant amounts of fresh components, the only way to integrate them into the pile is to flip it often.
The Pile Curing Process
You should avoid using your compost soon after it cools. Allow a couple of weeks for curing before using. Why? The solution is straightforward. Composting is not complete until the pile begins to cool! A few critical degradation processes can occur exclusively at low temperatures.
After thermophilic bacteria die at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), mesophilic bacteria, actinomycetes, and fungus continue the composting process until temperatures fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C). This stage is critical for the breakdown of cellulose and lignin.
Additionally, plant worms and many beetles return to the pile when the temperature decreases. Their aim is to increase the value and vitality of compost. If you fail to allow sufficient time for your pile to cure, these organisms will be unable to repopulate it.
Throughout this time period, you should continue turning the material according to the specified timetable until you get the ideal compost for your garden.
Containing a Compost Pile
There are many methods for maintaining a compost pile. Compost piles should be three feet broad and three feet long for optimal results.
Here are a few techniques for containing it.
While this may seem odd, it is a clever technique that helps keep compost heaps secure. Take a few pallets and secure them together using zip ties. Adjustable zip ties are a preferable choice since they allow you to easily unzip it from the sides and turn the compost material.
Utilize a Tumbler for Compost
If you have a little area, you may store the compost in a compost tumbler.
Place It in a Wooden Container
Additionally, you may construct the compost pile using a large wooden container.
If none of these alternatives are feasible, just put the compost in any area of your yard. This is not a long-term solution, but it will suffice until you find a better one.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Is it Better to Keep Compost in the Sun or in a Shaded Area?
You may keep the compost bin in either a sunny or shady location, since it performs well in both. However, enough sunshine exposure is preferable since it keeps the compost warm and speeds up the process of decomposition. Ensure that your compost container receives enough sunshine throughout the winter.
How Long Does a Compost Pile Remain Hot?
If you correctly mix the compost pile, it will maintain a temperature of 1400 degrees Fahrenheit for one or two weeks. Occasionally, it will remain active and warm for a whole month. However, you should monitor the temperature and flip the pile if it falls below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weekly or every 7-10 days, turn your pile. A excellent pile is dense (3 cubic feet is a good size). By volume, 5-6 inches of brown materials and 2-3 inches of green materials. Then, mixing well, add a sprinkling of earth or ready-made compost (an innoculator) and water. Then repeat the layering process until the required height/depth is achieved. After that, water and turn. Should have the texture of a wrung-out sponge. I utilize a pallet method and currently have two bins. One for each week. Additionally, I cover in black plastic. Additionally, aerate the mound with maize or sunflower stalks. Leave grass cuttings on the yard if feasible. It is more beneficial to the grass. Generally, more green than brown elements are seen (unless in the fall/winter). Along with your bruised leaves, paper towel/TP rolls, damp cardboard (non-shiny), coffee filters, egg shells, hay, straw, lint, and vacuum cleaner bag contents are also excellent sources of brown (I use the lawnmover to chop them up). I created a pile on Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday morning, it was already hot. With frequent turning and the proper quantity of air, water, and ingredients, compost may be produced in 6-12 weeks. Typically, you let it to cure for a further 1-2 months. This entails cutting things up tiny and not just throwing them in, even food leftovers.
I am constantly maintaining numerous compost heaps. (With two horses and a flock of chickens, we have plenty of feedstock for the heaps!)
You are not required to turn the heaps if you do not want to. They will take longer to compost and will not decompose completely. For instance, the material on the exterior will not be degraded.
A well built pile will heat up very fast — mine reach temperatures of 120-130°F when the formula is correct. (Lawn clippings and horse manure combined with bedding make an excellent combination.) As a compost addict, I went out and purchased a thermometer with an about 18″ long probe. When I am attempting to maintain a hot pile, I go out everyday and insert the thermometer. If the temperature of the pile begins to fall, it is time to turn it. This is possible after a few days (it depends on what your ingredients are). When I flip it over, I often water it (the stable bedding we use absorbs a huge amount of water).
However, I seldom have the time or energy to keep the piles consistently warm. As a result, I rotate them every few of weeks or months (whenever time and energy strike at the same time). When the heaps get too large, I just push them up with the tractor — not an ideal mixing, but it gets some air in there and they re-heat (enough to be steamy for a couple of cool fall mornings).
I have never used a tumbler, but it seems as if you should be able to spin it 2-3 times each week to maintain proper aeration. Again, monitoring the temperature will indicate when it is time for a thorough mixing.
To summarize, we discussed the advantages of rotating compost, as well as the frequency with which it should be turned. Additionally, we included the finest methods for turning it and provided suggestions for controlling the compost pile.
We hope you are now prepared to begin turning the compost pile. It is preferable to repeat the procedure once a week and mix the material completely from bottom to top. This manner, you will have the highest-quality compost at your disposal.
Finally, be sure to follow the instructions precisely to prevent mold growth in your compost heap.
Whether you use a pitchfork or a compost tumbler to stir your compost, this is good for your pile. The objective is to completely mix material from the pile’s center and edge, as well as from the top and bottom.
Bear in mind that the frequency with which you turn compost will vary according to the material you use and the size of the pile. Repeating the procedure two to three times a week ensures that you will eventually have excellent compost for your garden.