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tranquilsea's avatar

How often should you turn a compost pile?

Asked by tranquilsea (17754points) May 13th, 2010

I’ve been running a compost for a few years and sometimes I forget about the damn thing because my life gets busy. I’ve read that food/clippings will compost in about 30 days under the right conditions. I have yet to reach that 30 day turnover.

How often should you turn a pile?

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7 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

The best composting takes place under anaerobic conditions, so regular turning will ensure that the exposed compost gets buried down where the action is. I turn my pile every time I add compost. I’ve heard plenty of opposing opinion, though, so wait for some more answers.

tranquilsea's avatar

There was one year I must have been doing something right as the compost steamed all through the winter months. And the winter months here get bone crushingly cold.

MacJim's avatar

I used to turn mine every 2–3 weeks, but now that I have a tumbler I give it a tumble about every week or so. Just remember you have to keep it moist, but not over moist. Heat will do the rest.

I just noticed the other day where I had piled a bunch of tree cuttings (small) and some fall leaves…. Went to move the pile and underneath had some nice compost… Never did turn this at all…. So maybe the answer is… When you feel like it :)

lilikoi's avatar

I live in Hawaii. I just read an ag publication from my local university (published a while ago, though) that said turn once a month for three months and in the third month the compost should be ready. You don’t want to turn it too often as every time you turn it, you release heat. It probably varies depending on climate and what you’re composting etc.

sarahsugs's avatar

I turn once a week or once every two weeks, which makes for a warm, but not hot, pile. However, I also have a ton of red wriggler worms in my compost bin which make the kitchen scraps disappear incredibly fast! This system works great for me since I don’t have to turn as often, and the worms seem quite happy. They don’t like a pile that’s too hot anyway. You can order red wriggler worms online or get them from a lot of community gardens.

tranquilsea's avatar

Well, it just recently unfroze and I gave it a good turn yesterday and soaked it. It has composted much of material we put in there last fall but there are still some leaves that need to decompose.

Our lives were so chaotic last year we didn’t actually take anything out of the compost heap for the garden and we had to shut down any additions through the winter as it was full.

Thanks for all the tips :-)

tranquilsea's avatar

I was reading my newspaper today and found this article:

How To Build A Compost Heap

Very timely. The article states that the compost should be turned 3 times a month.

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