To turn or not to turn?
It is not necessary to turn the contents of your compost bin
in order to make good compost - though it may take a little longer
to completely rot down if you never turn it.
However, recent research as promoted by the
Royal College of Physicians, shows that turning compost for 30
minutes burns 250 - 300 calories, the equivalent to working out on a
treadmill. And shovelling up compost when you empty your bin burns
243-363 calories. Presumably depending on how heavy and soggy the
So - forget the gym and turn your compost!
Traditional bins like New Zealand
boxes need some turning.
bins work on a 2 year cycle with one bay for each yearís rubbish.
Kitchen and garden waste is added to one of the bays throughout the
year and this material can be turned as often as you can face doing
it. A fresh supply of air is injected at every turning, and this
leads to a higher temperature and better compost more quickly.
Remember air is needed throughout the heap, not at the outside, so a
slatted bin or one with Ďair ventsí on the side merely makes the
material at the edges dry out and encourages weeds to grow. Boxes
with solid sides keep
moisture in and prevent any essential
warmth from escaping.
At the end of the year, the full bay can be covered over with old
carpet or bubble film or lots of cardboard, and ideally topped with
a solid lid to keep snow out and warmth and moisture in. After another
year, while you are using the second bay for fresh material, youíll
have perfect, crumbly compost in the first bay. When you have used
this in the garden and have an empty bay, you can turn the contents
of its neighbour in to it. If this is all the turning you do you
will still make good compost.
Donít turn materials in a plastic bin.
Plastic bins supplied by your Council should be used all the time,
so keep adding material every time you garden or peel your tatties.
When you lift your bin off the compost heap, youíll find recently
added material at the top, well rotted at the bottom and everything
at different stages in between. By turning this kind of heap, youíll
jumble everything up so you will never get at the perfectly rotted
compost as it will be mixed through the unrotted stuff. [This mix up
will also happen if you use a hatch at the bottom of a plastic bin.]
Once or twice a year, when you want to use your compost, lift the
bin off the heap, fork the material thatís not ready back into the
bin and shovel up the good compost at the bottom. When you fork the
material over like this, youíre turning it, by the way, and that is
when you mix in the fresh air.
So you always turn your compost Ė but
at different times and in different ways, depending on the type of
bin you use.