Tips to Turn Your Compost Pile
Making and Using Compost Protects the Environment
Before we get into turning compost, let's talk about why composting matters. Composting is beneficial for the environment in several ways. First, by mixing compost into your lawn or garden you'll save water and use less synthetic fertilizer. Compost can reduce the need for watering by up to 60 percent and it acts as a soil conditioner. Second, composting yard waste and kitchen scraps will help you throw away less stuff—preventing up to 28 percent of your trash from going to landfills each year. Did you know that it costs Texans over $250 million a year to collect and dispose of yard waste? By composting, you're doing your part!
Why Should I Turn My Compost Heap?
Turning your pile will help the materials decompose and produce a finished product more quickly. Mixing the materials helps to create the right mix of air and water and, thus, leads to faster breakdown. The microorganisms in your compost pile need a certain amount of water and air to sustain themselves. By turning your compost pile, you'll add more oxygen to it, distribute moisture evenly, and increase the temperature enough to kill weed seeds and pests.
How Do I Turn My Compost Pile?
When turning, it is important that the material on the outside of the pile is turned into the center. You can use a hayfork, shovel, or a compost turner to break up clumps and allow more air into the pile. One way to make this easier is to take down your compost bin, move it a few feet away, and turn the materials into it.
How Frequently Should I Turn My Compost Pile?
In the summer, you should turn the pile weekly. In the winter, once a month will suffice. If your pile is too wet, it should be turned. You also don't want your pile to be too dry. If this happens, turn the pile and re-wet the materials in the process. A good rule of thumb is that the pile should be moist throughout, like a wrung-out sponge, but not soaked. Your pile should not stink. However, if it does, you can turn it daily until the odor disappears.