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Turning a Compost Pile – Easily and Cheaply

Turning a compost pile can be time consuming and a bit difficult to do.  The material can get very heavy and cumbersome to move around which is needed in order to change the organic matter into hummus.

All vegetable gardeners know that composting is a great way to get organic fertilizer for your garden beds. Even so, a common gardening mistake is forgetting to amend soil.

Adding organic matter made in a compost pile to your vegetable gardens nourishes both the plants and the soil, giving you a healthy garden and high crop yield.

Tools for turning a compost pile

Turning a compost pile regularly is one of the best ways to increase the decomposition of it and also to solve many compost pile problems. 

Compaction of the matter and a pile that is too wet are just two common problems with compost piles that just sit and aren’t turned.

Un-turned compost piles can also get too hot which will upset the balance of microbes in them.

Compost tumblers will also prevent this problem but they are expensive.

And if you have a standing compost pile, you will need tools to aerate the pile by turning it.

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Turning a compost pile cheaply

One of the most commonly used items to turn a compost pile is a special compost turning tool, but why not use items you might already have on hand to turn the compost pile?

Here are handy items that you can use to turn your compost pile and get it working for you.    None of these will break your gardening bank!

Garden fork

You may already have this tool that you use to aerate your lawn. Let’s put it to another use by turning the compost mixture with it.

Attachments to your drill

A cordless drill can be used with a bulb augur attachment. It moves the compost mixture easily without too much elbow grease.

Make your own compost aerator

Attach a broom handle to a Dollar Store spiral tomato stake. See how to do this here.

Using rebar to turn the compost pile

Insert long pieces of rebar into the center of the compost pile and out through the edges of the bin. Next, have two people stand on either side and move them side to side to aerate the pile

Recycled long items

A compost bin is often quite deep. What do you have around the house that you can use to stick into the pile to move it? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Old golf clubs.  Put the base of the club at the bottom of the pile and lift the compost slightly
  • Recycled curtain rods, especially the ones with the corner shape are great for lifting compost.
  • An old floor lamp (minus the shade and electrical wires, of course) makes a great lifter for the pile.
  • Old snow skis and water skis can be use to lift and aerate the pile.
  • Old table legs or bar stool table legs can be used to move your pile around

Can you think of other inexpensive DIY items to turn or aerate your compost pile?

For ideas of what you should and should not add to a compost pile, check out these articles:

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