Home & Garden Gardening

Is Turning Compost Really Necessary?

Composting of kitchen and garden waste is clearly beneficial from the point of view of reducing the amount of rubbish that is sent to the landfill and the end result is of benefit for improving the soil in your garden.
However, whether or not turning compost is essential is a matter of some debate.
The answer to this depends largely upon which method you intend to employ.
In order for your compost making to be successful you should use a variety of materials.
Most kitchen waste, including vegetable peelings, egg shells and teabags can be used.
However, you should avoid citrus fruit as it is too acidic.
Most garden was can also be used; typically grass clippings and annual weeds.
You should avoid perennial weeds as you will only end up spreading these over your garden as you distribute the compost over the garden.
You should also avoid large woody pieces as these just take far too long to rot, but you could shred them into much smaller pieces to speed the process.
Other materials you can use include paper and cardboard (not shiny), wood ash (not coal ash), straw, hay, wood chippings.
There are essentially two methods of making compost.
A quick cook method involves turning the compost every week or so.
What this does is to introduce air into the decomposing material and assists in the rotting process.
The process is speeded up further by covering the compost to keep it moist and to keep the warmth in.
The advantage of using this method is that you make compost in a very short space of time, typically around three months.
Also the temperatures reached in the compost heap kills of any seeds which prevents you spreading too many weeds when you spread it on the garden.
The downside, of course, is the amount of work involved.
The other method is simply to pile up your composting material and leave it.
It takes considerably longer of course (up to a year depending on the size of your heap), but it will rot eventually.
You do need to make sure that you have a good mix of material for this to be successful.
I suggest that you do turn your compost at once during the process in order make sure that it is well mixed - if you don't you may find clumps on unrotted material or bits green smelly sludge within your compost.
The advantages of this method is that there is almost no effort involved.
The downsides are that it takes considerably longer.
Also you should be aware that the temperatures reached will not be as high so there is a risk that any seeds within your heap will still be viable so may end up sprouting when you spread your compost over your garden.

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