Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Time to Turn: A Real Life Compost Story

Guest post from Brad Miller

Cooler temperatures this spring and a vacation resulted in me turning the compost pile later this spring than usual. When I finally got around to it, I experienced a little good and bad.

First: the bad news. As I started digging into the wet, dense center of the pile, a rotten egg, sulfur odor greeted my nostrils. Oops! What caused this problem? A portion of my pile went anaerobic because I had not turned my pile to get oxygen into it. Anaerobic composting happens without the presence of oxygen (think swamps). This type of composting is super slow and as my nostrils can attest- stinky.

But, all is not lost. An anaerobic compost pile will quickly switch to aerobic (air-loving) composting with a good amount of turning. I also incorporated some new dry leaves generously gifted to me by a coworker.

Second: the good news. As I turned the pile I encountered a healthy community of bugs and worms living in the composting material. In other good news, all the recent rains added plenty of moisture so I didn’t need to drag the hose down to the pile (of course, it is possible all of that rain contributed to the pile going anaerobic, but I’m an optimist).

Final lesson learned: next year, I will remember to turn my pile around the first week of May.

Brad Miller spreading compost near our office.

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