Turning Your Compost Pile

Turning Your Compost Pile

Turning your compost pile every three or four weeks is very important. Because it adds oxygen to the process and assist the bacteria in breaking down the organic matter. Turning your compost will provide oxygen to the bacteria and allow it to reproduce. If the compost begins to smell funny or rancid it means that it has gone anaerobic. Anaerobic compost promotes pathogenic bacteria and kills off beneficial aerobic bacteria. By turning the compost often you are accelerating the process of decomposition by keeping the good bacteria active and alive.

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Heat in the compost pile

If too much heat builds up above the 104° – 122° F or 40° – 50°C range some of the good bacteria will die off. If the temperature gets to low then the process of decomposition slows down. It is a good idea to make sure the pile reaches a high temperature and maintains the temperature for five days in order to kill pathogens, weed seeds and other critters or larva.

The more bacteria you have breaking down the organic material the more heat is generated and the quicker the interior of the pile will breakdown. By turning it you move the material on the outer sides closer to the middle and at the same time have the opportunity to add water to keep the moisture levels high. Too little moisture reduces bacterial activity but too much (over 65%), makes it go anaerobic. In addition is causes the nutrients to wash away.

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Materials to Use and Avoid

When using kitchen scraps they need to be free from oil, sauce or anything containing animal products. These ingredients attract rodents and will slow down the composting process. Helpful tip: if the pile is decomposing too slowly, you can add more green material to create heat and speed the process along.

See video on composting.  Read more about how to make compost.