Friday, July 29, 2016

Aerate Your Compost with No Work?

For years I have thrown all sticks landing in my yard into our backyard fire pit. Aside from loving a good campfire, I know any stick larger around than my thumb will take a very long time to decompose in my bin. I even try to break other materials up to make decomposition faster.

But recently I started deliberately adding sticks to my compost hoping to provide something every compost pile needs: AIR.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Adding a small layer of sticks every so often, especially when you are starting a new pile, helps the material from becoming too dense for air to move through. Keeping air in your pile helps encourage our friends the aerobic microorganisms to break down our compost even faster.

Of course you can also aerate your pile by turning it but I’m experimenting to see if sticks offer the same effect with little to no effort.

Another material with a similar effect to sticks would be straw. Last fall after harvesting my compost, I piled some old straw in the bottom to help air flow through the bin.

Free As A Bird

Other composters have tried different methods to add air into the pile without having to turn.

PVC pipe with holes drilled in it 
Stalks from plants
Bunched up cardboard or egg cartons

Feel free to air your opinion: do you use anything else to keep air in your pile?


  1. I toss in the cardboard tubes from rolls of paper towels. They get soggy eventually but they make little pockets of air until they decompose.

  2. I aerate mine by poking holes in the pile occasionally with a long garden stake. I also turn it every few weeks.

  3. Great article.Thanks for sharing.