Tune up your compost pile by turning it over

Turning your compost pile adds heat, moisture and air to speed up decay and generate new soil.

Compost piles work at a snail’s pace to break down, but there are ways to speed the process and get your black gold earlier. Those magic ingredients to speed decay involve heat, moisture and air. According to Michigan State University Extension, his was a wet growing season, especially when compared to the last several years, but the rains have let up for much of Michigan and compost piles are drying out. This is a very good time to flip and mix your compost. It’s also a good time to check that bottom layer to see if some is ready for action somewhere else in your garden. This is more than just turning the pile.

Pull out anything that is too woody or coarse and save it for the very bottom of the heap. If parts of the pile are too wet, it can be mixed with the more-dry materials that were on the top or sides, or it is possible to incorporate shredded paper to plump up the pile. Ink is now all soy-based, so the worry of ink with lead in it is no longer a concern. Just don’t compost the shiny newspaper because it is coated with clay to give it that slippery appearance. Mix and add, and when finished, water the pile so it is as damp as a rung-out wash cloth or a squeezed-out sponge.

Now the compost pile can get working again. It’s so trendy to recycle, reduce and reuse.

For more information on a wide variety of Smart Gardening articles, classes and events, visit www.migarden.msu.edu.

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