Compost is the nutrient-rich material left behind after organic matter decomposes. To a gardener, it’s black gold. It’s easy to make at home and the most frequent question asked about it is – How often do I need to turn my compost bin? We’ll answer that question, and a few others, so you can transform your kitchen and yard waste into organic food for your garden.
What Do I Put In The Compost Bin?
Vegetable and fruit peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and all other food waste except meat and dairy products. Meat scrap and bones will attract animals to the compost pile and dairy creates an unpleasant odor.
Fallen leaves, small twigs, dead garden plants, grass clippings, and shredded paper. Manure from farm animals (chickens, cows, horses, goats, rabbits, but NOT dogs or cats)
How To Build A Compost Pile
The composting process involves four main components: organic matter, moisture, oxygen, and bacteria.
Organic materials used to build a compost pile should be a mixture of green organic material (food scraps and grass clippings) and brown organic material (dead leaves, twigs, paper, and manure)
The green materials supply nitrogen and the brown materials supply carbon. Layers are created with the green and brown material and the smaller the material, the faster it will decompose.
Moisture is needed for the decomposition process. Keep the compost as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Bacteria are the hard workers in the composting process. They break down the organic materials into usable compost. The bacteria naturally occur within the organic pile.
Oxygen is needed to support the breakdown of plant material by bacteria.
How Often Should I Turn My Compost?
To supply oxygen and keep the pile decomposing, it must be turned regularly so that materials at the edges are brought to the center of the pile.
Wait for 2-weeks before turning a newly built compost pile to allow the center of the pile to heat up and begin decomposing. Once the pile has cooled in the center, decomposition of the center material is complete. Frequent turning will speed the process for all the materials in the compost bin.
Turn the compost bin every 3-4 weeks. The goal is to bring the outside parts of the material into the center so they can heat up and decompose.
The finished compost will be ready for garden use in about 3-months.