Why is it important to turn the hot compost heap?’

Why is it important to turn the hot compost heap?
The opinions shared here are based upon my own experiences working with compost and may not be shared by all.

Hot Compost Pile Up Close

A question l was asked the other day was ‘Why is it important to turn the hot compost heap?’

When you look at your compost pile – what you need to achieve with each turning is – you need to turn the entire heap inside out and outside in, in a balanced manner. That is a simple but effective way of getting to grips with what you want to achieve when turning the compost heap over.

Mixing your kitchen and garden wastes with each turn in the compost allows broken materials to be distributed deeper into the pile itself, and the microorganisms can break down the organic material quicker.

In basic terms, when the compost pile is turned, it aerates the content, fluffs it all up, and opens up little air pockets within the compaction of the waste materials where oxygen can enter the heap and introduce valuable microbes and other beneficial organisms, which are present in the millions if not billions and they all play a critical part in the breaking down of the compost pile.

Turning compost is essential because it is part of the completion process, and to move the process along promptly, the turnings need to be regular. The more you turn the hot compost [ideally once every 2 – 3 days], the hotter the mixture becomes and the faster the decomposition breaks the waste down.

With each turn, forking, flipping or stirring – however you phrase it, you award your mixture with more content to interact with and mix up properly.

Turning a hot compost pile regularly instead of never turning a cold compost pile is the difference between having brown gold once every 3 – 5 weeks due to the presence of aerobic bacteria to once every 12+ months and the reliance upon anaerobic bacterias.

Some beneficial reasons for regular turnings are:

Aeration of the heaped content – introducing oxygen to quicken the decomposition process

Turnings allow essential microbes and organisms to be relocated onto content that requires more attention.

Balancing the heat found within the pile more evenly.

Redistributing uncomposted kitchen and garden waste throughout the pile, reducing rotting.

Materials are fluffed up, thoroughly mixed and separated, reducing clumps and compacted areas and continuing the decomposition process.

Turning will redistribute the wet clumps elsewhere in the heap if the compost pile is too wet.

The whole point of creating a hot compost pile and turning it regularly from start to finish is to have material ready to use when you want it and in a quicker turnaround time. Hot compost methods produce richly nutrient materials to add to your garden quickly.

Common Composting Questions Directory

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here
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Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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