Making compost is like magic. You throw together organic material, wait a while, and boom, rich, dark soil for your garden. Okay, that’s a little misleading. There’s a bit more that goes into successfully composting your kitchen scraps and lawn clippings into fertile soil. One of the things you’ll want to do to your compost if you want it to break down quickly and evenly is turn it. But how often should you turn your compost? It really depends on a few factors. In this article, we’ll break it all down.
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As an avid gardener and composter, making sure that I get it right is really, really important to me. I want to be certain that I’m getting that fresh soil just as quickly as it can be made. In my world, there can never be enough dirt. This little composting trick can help you really ramp up the amount of soil you’re making. But why is it so important to turn it?
Why turn your compost?
I’m not the kind of person to waste time in the garden. I don’t want to undertake some big endeavor unless it’s necessary. But let me tell you something: turning your compost is most definitely a necessary task. But why?
Your compost heap is comprised of a few main ingredients, some of which you can see and some you can’t. It of course has organic matter, like your lawn clippings and food scraps. There’s also water, obviously, compost heaps are typically pretty damp places. And we know there are bacteria and other little creepy crawlies like fly maggots in there as well. but there’s one more component that you may not suspect: oxygen.
Oxygen is an extremely important component of the composting process. Like humans, the bacteria that break down your compost require an oxygen supply. When you turn your heap, you add more pockets of oxygen to your heap, which allows the bacteria in the compost heap to thrive and reproduce. Turning also helps reduce unwanted odors.
If you’re trying to compost tougher items, like tea bags or coffee filters, moving these things around in your compost heap can help tear them apart and make sure they’re getting adequate moisture and microbial action.
How often should you turn your compost?
Turning your compost heap often enough will help supercharge the composting process, resulting in fully decomposed organic matter faster. But how often do you need to be out there turning it? Daily? Weekly? The good news here is that the tough task of turning your compost heap needs to be a monthly, or at most, twice-monthly affair. Turning your compost heap every 2-4 weeks will help the microbes in your heap break it all down.
Don’t be too enthusiastic about turning your compost heap. There can be too much of a good thing, without a doubt. If you rush out there and turn your compost too often, it can actually disrupt the activities of fungi and bacteria that would otherwise be hard at work making new soil for your garden.