One of the best ways to get great compost in a hurry is to turn it regularly. Turning (mixing or aerating) your compost pile adds air to the mix, which speeds up the process of decomposition and prevents your pile from becoming stagnant. It also gives you a chance to assess whether your pile is too wet or too dry (it should be moist, like a wrung-out sponge) and amend accordingly.
Turning the compost is an easy—if messy—task if you’ve got more than one bin (three is often considered ideal. Add new organic waste to one bin, emptying it into the second and eventually third as it decomposes). But with one bin, you’re stuck trying to mix a heavy, deep, and tall pile of rotting stuff either by using one of those compost aerating tools (I used to have one but found it less than helpful. Then it broke.) or by scooping out the bottom of the bin and putting the waste back in the top. (At least, those are my methods. If you’ve got a better solution, please share in the comments!)
This used to be a task I’d do maybe three times a year—grudgingly. Then I let Lila in on the action, and she took to it like, well, a worm to a rotting Jack o’ Lantern. She loves visiting “her” worms, wood bugs, and millipedes. And she actually helps move the compost from bottom to top with her little shovel.
Okay, it’s slow going, but I do love watching—and sharing in—her delight as she discovers the simply wonders of a compost pile.
Phil Nauta - Smiling Gardener says
We used to have one of those composters that is a hexagon shape so that it can be rolled over once a week onto a new side. Nice idea, but it got really heavy to roll…
I haven’t found a better solution. I’ve been doing the 3 bin idea: Bin 1 is for new stuff, Bin 2 is for half-way done, and Bin 3 is for mostly done. When Bin 3 is done, I put its contents out in the garden. Then I move the contents of Bin 2 into Bin 3, and the contents of Bin 1 into Bin 2. So, yeah, I only turn/rotate my piles a few times a year.
(sorry! I missed reading where you already explained the 3 bin idea! scrolling too fast…)
That’s a fantastic way to turn the compost! I love getting the kids involved! Mine enjoy the bugs and digging too. It doesn’t seem like work to them, silly kids! They don’t realize I’m training my future grounds keeping team! Lol!
Can Jake come over to learn how to garden with you and Lila?
Nature Drunk says
I love this. It so reminds me of when my teenage son was that age and he loved. loved, loved working side by side with me in the garden. What a sweet age. I want to be that age again digging in the sweet soil with my mama and sister by my side.
Adorable little compost apprentice you have there. I love that you have it in the alley – what a space saver. I have 2 bins one for the front and one for the back of my tiny lot, which like you, is in Vancouver. I use the aerating wand from the city as opposed to double digging and find it much easier (especially because hubby does it!).
What a cute little composter helper!
Dirty Girl Gardening says
Gorgeous baby and gorgeous compost… what more could you ask for in life? :)
My compost bin is bottomless, so my turning method is to lift it up, move it over a few feet and shovel everything back in so what was on the bottom becomes the top. Not the most efficient system, but my compost bin was purchased from the city for $5. I’m getting what I paid for it, and some exercise to boot! If my shovel handle ever breaks, I’ll upgrade to a tumbler. =)
hi, I find that the trick is to add a smidgen of garden soil when you throw in the kitchen or garden scraps. That inoculates the scraps with composting bacteria, which go to work right away, and so I never need to turn the pile–saves time for having G & T’s in the garden. :-)
oK. NOW I want to go pick up one of those compost bins. i didn’t before (even though the city offers them at very discounted rates) because i didn’t think it would survive sitting on concrete (which is what we have to work with in the back yard). but now i see yours is doing fine, much better perhaps than my spinning composter? and i’m thinking i need to give it a shot as well. thanks so much for this post! :::
Lila Bellamy Garfinkel says
Question, I have the one bin, but what do you do about MOLES??! Can they get through chicken wire? Thinking about putting some at the bottom of my bin…