Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Compost Turned

Last year's compost is the pile under black plastic to the right. The dark pile in the middle is this years pile - newly turned. To the left is my leaf storage bin which is almost empty.

I haven't written much about my compost this year. Last year I would turn my compost every week. I considered it part of my exercise regimen. This year I've been much lazier. I figured I turn it once it got full.

Well it never did get full. It would be almost full after I added the week's materials. Then by the next week it would be a foot lower and I could fit every thing in again.

I've been adding to it every week. The primary carbon source is leaves that I collected last fall. This year I've been shredding them with my lawn mower. They seem to decay a lot faster than the whole leaves I used last year. The second source of carbon is shredded newspapers. I shredded them in two way. The machine shredded newspaper is fabulous. It doesn't clump up and decays much faster than my hand shredded newspaper. The hand shredded stuff really clumps and is hard to separate when I turn it.

I have a nice variety of nitrogen materials. From my yard I have grass clippings, pulled plants, and vegetable waste. From my husband's work I have coffee grounds and sometimes I get the saved vegetable waste from their chef. She loves to collect it all and keep it out of the trash. I'm not the only one that wants it. There is someone who keeps rabbits that likes to get it too and another person that likes the eggshells, but I haven't a clue as to what he uses the eggshells for.

So I have a decent quantity of materials that goes into my bin, but it never seems to fill up all the way. Last week I filled the bin all the way up. Today it was a foot shorter. I figured I really needed to get the pile turned anyway. It is about as warm as it ever will be and it decays better in warmer temps. I want plenty of compost that is finished to use next year. So I turned it. I'll have to turn it a couple more times. This will make sure it is well mixed and all the clumps are broken up. It will also aerate the pile, dry it out and get it hot again. I guess I'll get some more exercise. Who needs a gym?


  1. Sure, give me a complex. I'm terrible about turning my compost. Mine is in a big ugly black barrel, and it's become nothing more than a garbage dump for me again. I was doing fine as long as I had some leaves, but now I feel guilty...I think I'll go shred newspapers today.

  2. Can't you put eggshells in the compost?

    My neighbor puts them straight onto his garden. I've never done that though, not have I put them in my compost.

    I haven't turned my compost all year. It's just a mound of dirt with dead plants on top of it. I'm really lazy I guess.

  3. I guess I should put my name in with the lazy gardeners as well.
    At least I've watered it more this year (since it caught fire).
    As far as the egg shells go, they're fine as long as they're empty, no whole eggs.

  4. how do you go about turning it? Do you just dig a shovel in there and mix it about?

  5. Thanks for the reminder- I need to do this!

  6. Well, i'm not one of the most lazy composters....I turn my pile about once every 2-3 weeks during the summer months. sucks, but has to be performed. Although my posts about composting have slowed down considerably, you can bet it will be the #1 topic during the winter months. A 6 bin system is gonna be something to see! Dang, it sure takes alot of leaves, though!

  7. Gosh I really should turn mine too. We've just been dumping our kitchen scraps in and walking away. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. What a nice big compost area you have. I still have my big black bin like Granny's. I rarely turn it or add brown material. I think I've turned once since emptying it this spring. Now it is stuffed full again and I am wishing I picked up a second one this spring when the city sells them for $25 bucks.

  9. You're right about 'who needs a gym'! Maybe we should add the cost of a gym membership to our "garden savings" column :)

  10. Granny, lol yes you pick 100lbs of veggies from your garden every week and can or freeze them. Somehow I think you have nothing to be guilty of.

    selina, yes eggshells are great for the compost. I tend to use mine for other things though - like crushing and using as fertilizer for the tomatoes or putting under my cole crops to keep the slugs off.

    Jacob, you had a compost pile that caught fire? Wow I didn't know it could do that. I always keep it damp so I'm pretty sure I'm safe. Mine steams a lot, but never have I had smoke.

    taylor, I use a compost fork. It is a tool made just for turning the compost pile. When I first started gardening I had little money. Most of my tools were hand me downs. I used a garden fork then (with a bent tine), but trust me if you can afford it a compost fork is gold. It makes the work a lot easier.

    Tessa, hmm aren't you moving soon? I think if I were moving imminently, I might just leave it. Unless of course I was going to take the compost with me. :>

    EG, wow a six bin system? I guess I have a four bin one. I have three wire bins that I usually use for the compost itself then a huge one to collect leaves in. I can't wait to see your six bin setup.

    GrafixMuse, I do that in the winter. Everything freezes solid, but I do like to turn it occasionally in the summer to make it break down faster.

    Dan, I have one of those bins too, but I don't have a lot in it. I tend to use it for collecting scraps in the winter time. It keeps the animals out of the frozen food scraps. When it all thaws and I start getting lawn clippings I move it all over to the wire bins.

    Jackie, lol sadly I still do have a gym membership. It is a family one. My husband swims every day. I also take occasional dance class at the gym.

  11. Ah come on guys ! Turning compost is fun ! :D