Turning the compost we think is important, but what maybe real important is how often. Some people turn theirs once a week and some dont turn theirs at all. We think at least once every two months. Sometimes we do it as often as every two weeks. As long as you monitor your compost you will know when or when not to turn. Also yes we are human and we forget and dont always turn ours when we should so dont feel bad if you miss a turning date.
It boils down to a few things.
- How active. If it is active then we leave it till it starts to become inactive. It needs to do its thing so lets let it. Remember activity creates heat. Lots of activity makes lots of heat.
- How hot. If it is HOT then we dont touch it. If we do anything we add water if it gets to extreme. When your pile gets active it will get hot and remember activity creates heat and you are on the right path, but you will need to monitor the heat. We use a compost thermometer.
- How wet. Being in such a dry climate in south Texas it is very important to watch the moisture in the compost. We always add water when turning the compost. Sometimes we will add water even when not turning. Especially during our hot summer months. Remember the little active microbes in there are living and need water. We use a moisture meter also.
- Oxygen. The little living microbes, worms, bugs, etc. need air like we do. So try to make sure you have something in your compost such as straw, cardboard, etc. to trap and hold oxygen in the compost pile.
- Fertilizer. You dont need much if any fertilizer when composting. Also puts us in more of a natural gardening sense. If you do need some fertilizer or something in your soil you can add it to the compost and it will help your soil along with the compost.
- Dont turn it!!! Sometimes people turn their compost to often and it never has the chance to get hot or active enough. If its hot then, then its active. If its active it will get hot. So if its hot and active dont touch it. You need to turn it when it begins to cool down and starts becoming less active.
- Tools. Not so much about the compost, but makes doing it easier. Right tools and the job is easier. In this case you can see we use our tractor. It makes short work and since we always have very little time it really speeds up the process. Its like having a dozen people with shovels and wheel barrows.
There is a lot more to composting than just what we have mentioned here, but this is great basics to get you going. Below you can see the thermometer and moisture meter we use. Good Luck.