Turning compost in a bin can be done with compost aerator tools such as the corkscrew tool, the aerator tool with wings or if you don’t have either of these an old fashioned pitchfork or shovel can be used. This article explains how to use each of these tools.
Here is what each of these tools looks like
Just to be specific here, a standard compost bin should not be confused with a compost tumbler. A compost tumbler does not need the compost turned using an aerator tool, as the turning and tumbling action of a compost tumbler aerates the compost.
How Do You turn Compost In A Bin?
The Corkscrew Aerator Tool To Turn Compost In A Bin
This tool is specially designed to make turning the compost easier.
Remove the lid from the bin. To use this tool, insert it into the center of the compost bin and twist it to turn the material. The corkscrew-shaped blades help loosen any compacted material and aerate the compost, improving circulation and accelerating decomposition.
Once the material has loosened, you can move it up and down and place it in different positions in the pile.
If the sides of your bin look on the dry side compared to the middle, which may have too much moisture, try and incorporate those organic materials so that the brown materials and green materials are more evenly distributed.
If grass clippings have been dumped into the bin you may find them in a matted lump that is hard to break up. Green lawn clippings which after mowing the lawn are sometimes added to the bin in large quantities.
Follow these steps to incorporate grass clippings into the compost and it will be easier to turn the compost.
The corkscrew compost aerator can also be used to mix in additional ingredients, such as water or manure, which will further promote decomposition.
Of all of the tools, this one is the easiest to manage in a compost bin.
The Winged Aerator Tool To Turn Compost In a Bin
Like the corkscrew composting aerator, this tool is also deigned specifically for tuning the compost and work very well in a compost bin.
To use a winged aerator in a compost bin, first insert the aerator into the bin.
Then, twist the aerator handle to make sure that the blades are fully deployed.
Next, push the aerator down into the compost, being careful not to over-compress the material.
Finally, twist the aerator handle in the opposite direction to retract the blades and remove the aerator from the bin.
Repeat this process as needed to ensure adequate aeration of the compost. This action breaks up clumps of compost materials, allowing air to circulate more freely.
If necessary, remove any large clumps that have not been broken up by the aerator. Repeat this process every few weeks. This will ensure that the compost remains aerobic and productive.
Using A Pitchfork To Turn Compost In A Bin
You can use a garden fork or a pitchfork to turn the compost, and it works just fine, but it does require some strength.
The pitchfork needs to be speared into the pile and then lifted and turned. This is where the purpose made tools make the job easier, as they are designed to lift the compost. It can be hard work. The contents tend to get stuck on the prongs of the pitchfork.
In the early days of my composting endeavours I did use a shovel to turn the pile. This meant emptying the contents of the bin, shovelling backwards and forwards and then returning the contents to the bin. This method does work also but takes time and a considerable amount of effort.
The effort is more considerable. If the only tools available to you as compost aerators are a pitchfork or a shovel, you can still turn your compost to distribute the green and brown materials. Your compost will still work.
How Often Should The Compost In A Bin Be Turned?
It is important to turn the compost in a bin regularly in order to aerate the contents and promote the composting process. A good rule of thumb is to turn the compost once a week or once every couple of weeks.
However, if you find that the bin is getting too dry, you may need to turn it more frequently. On the other hand, if the bin is getting too wet, you may need to turn it less often.
The key to successful composting is to strike a balance between ensuring adequate aeration and moisture levels.
If the weather is hot and the compost is cooking quickly, I may turn it more frequently. If the weather is colder or wetter, I may turn it less often.
Why Turn The Compost? Do I Have To?
You definitely do not have to turn the compost in a compost bin. You will still end up with compost but if you spend some time turning the compost it will speed up the process. Why is this so, you ask?
It is because the contents of the bin can become matted. This is particularly so for lawn clippings which may start to go mouldy.
Also, the green contents of the compost bin can sometimes end up in the middle of the bin. This is because when the green materials have been put into the bin, they have usually just been dumped in and thus tend to land more in the middle. Aerating the contents allows you to incorporate some of the drier materials from the sides of the bin, thus distributing the moisture content more evenly.
Aerating the compost by turning the organic material is the best way to increase oxygen into a compost pile or compost bin.
Turning the composting materials will expose more surface area of the materials which will in turn reheat and break down.
The corkscrew and winged tool are ideal for using in compost bins. They can also be used in an open compost pile.
Remember to replace or close the lid on your compost bin to speed up the process of the compost being fully decomposed and ready for use.
Some people like to have two bins, one for compost on the go and the other in the decomposition process only.
DIY Compost Aerator X 2
1. This is a super simple idea and a piece of brilliance by the person who thought of it.
You can make a compost aerator by using a piece of pvc pipe and drilling holes into it.
Place the pole in the center of the bin when the bin is either empty or doesn’t contain much compost. It would be too difficult to get the pipe into the pile if there is too much compost in the bin.
This piece of pipe below I found on Amazon. The item dimensions as stated are 10ft x 4.5inches. The length will need to be cut to suit your bin. Having a couple of pipes in the same bin would be fine.
2. This idea doesn’t even need any DIY skills. Go to the store and buy a broomstick. This broomstick becomes your compost aerator.
Just poke it randomly into the compost bin or the compost pile.