If you are reading this, chances are you are starting your garden, or you’re looking for advice on how to make compost effectively. Composting is the process of decomposing organic matter, and there are many benefits compost can have for your garden.
While it doesn’t necessarily need your help, turning it can help the process and eliminate pests. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the benefits of turning your compost, how often you should do it, and what ways you can go about actually turning it. So keep reading to find out all you need to know about turning compost!
The Benefits of Turning Your Compost
Compost decomposes because of microbes that break down the compost and speed up the decaying process. These microbes are alive and require the basics that we all need to live. Turning compost helps these little guys move around and breathe on a microscopic level. Without oxygen to breathe, the microbes can die off, and this makes the decomposition process of the compost slow down dramatically.
So the obvious benefit would be to aerate the compost, to spread it around and bit, and give the microbes some additional breathing room and oxygen, to keep them alive and well. Over time, this oxygen will run out, and the compost becomes incredibly compact and will need to be aerated again.
Another benefit is to drain water and moisture. As the compost decays, and because of the elements, moisture begins to build up on and inside the compost, which slows down the whole process exponentially. Turning the compost will remove the water that was taking up the air’s space and drowning the microbes so that they can get back to work.
Overheating is also a problem that compost heaps will suffer from. With all the microbes doing their job and exerting energy, they release heat. The compost absorbs this heat, and this creates a bundle of intense heat in your heap. This heat can kill off the microbes, so mixing up and turning the compost to move the hot compost to the outer layers and the cooler compost inside will redistribute the heat and create a better environment for the microbes to do their job.
Lastly, the microbes themselves can become a problem. Their role in this process is to help speed up the decomposition process, but sometimes they do their job too well. If left unchecked, they will use up all the oxygen and nutrients in specific parts of the heap and eventually die off from the lack of resources.
These are but some of the benefits of turning your compost regularly. If you want a healthy, beautiful, and vibrant garden, you’ll have to make sure your compost is healthy.
So How Often Should You Turn your Compost?
There are, as expected, several factors that go into deciding how often you should turn and aerate your black gold. There are no hard and fast, strict rules in place as to how often you should turn your compost. You’re going to want to look at things like the size of your compost heap, the brown to green ratio, the moisture and humidity in a pile, the speed at which your compost pile is drying and decomposing, and the smell of the pile too.
These are the primary factors to look at when deciding when to turn the heap. A general rule of thumb is to check in every few days and check the heat, moisture, and smell. If the pile is getting hot, wet, or giving off an awful smell, it’s time to turn the heap and aerate it. You should be safe turning it every 4 to 5 days, depending on the size of the pile.
How to Turn your Compost
There are two main methods, the most difficult of which is manual, with a pitchfork. It’ll take some elbow grease, but you can use a pitchfork to lift and turn and mix up the compost in a heap. Just be sure to redistribute the heat evenly and ensure that no clumps of compressed compost appear.
The easier method would be with a compost tumbler. These wondrous devices keep the compost in a container that spins on an axis. So whenever you need to turn your compost, you head to your compost tumbler, give it a few spins, and the compost inside will be turned to the same effect as if you were to use a pitchfork.
Turning your compost is essential for so many reasons – keeping the compost and microbes healthy is the primary reason. You need an excellent heap of healthy compost if you want a healthy, thriving garden. Use either a pitchfork and manually turn it by hand, or use a compost tumbler to shift it around quickly. Simply do this every 4 to 5 days to ensure it stays healthy, and you’ll be using compost as good as gold in no time at all.