Compost-Along: Week 7

by Daisy

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This week, turn your compost.

This is WORK!

Why are we doing this again??

To revisit why we are going to all this trouble, I thought we’d take a look at some of the benefits of composting to keep our spirits up.


  • Conditions and improves soil structure.  This means it turns imperfect soils (sandy, clay, depleted, compacted, even contaminated, to a degree) into soil plants can dig their roots into and thrive.  Full of nutrients, moisture-retentive qualities, beneficial microorganisms and allowing for air penetration, compost brings life to soil.  It makes the soil easier for the gardener to work with, to plant, to weed, to harvest. Compost-rich soil makes healthy, disease and insect-resistant plants.
  • Prevents pollution. Proper composting takes materials that would be headed for landfills where they may generate methane and leachate and turns them into compost which can reduce stormwater runoff and prevent erosion.
  • Makes economic sense. Composting reduces the need for expensive commercial fertilizers and turns a waste product into an environmentally friendly commodity.  It’s almost that something from nothing we keep looking for.  Even the exercise we get is a free side benefit (provided you do not throw your back out turning your pile).

So, turn your pile. Bend from the knees.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

gmorgan July 10, 2012 at 6:47 am

Are we picking out the big stuff, like broccoli roots, that aren’t really rotting fast enough?
Can you still identify anything you put into your pile? I found some things I KNOW I DIDN’T PUT IN THERE!?!?! Now I am beginning to wonder if the neighbor is finally adding to my stack (I was beginning to wonder if he only ate take-out; I never see him with a lunchbox, ever.), as I am finding very fresh peelings and leaves.
I have to identify which is the “new” pile and which is the “old, getting ready to apply” pile, so I don’t get anymore ‘fresh’ surprises.

Daisy July 10, 2012 at 7:20 am

gmorgan–I’m not picking anything out. I’ve got big twigs in there that can take their sweet time even after I’ve added the compost to the garden bed. They will decompose eventually. Part of the beauty of compost is that it’s a “time-release” fertilizer, with different elements releasing their potency at different times, serving different purposes at different phases of its life cycle, releasing nitrogen, absorbing moisture, aerating the soil, attracting decomposers, etc. It’s neat that your neighbor is “helping”! Maybe if you put a cover/tarp or something over the old pile he would get the idea. A few lettuce leaves one way or another isn’t going to be a problem, though, so it should be fine either way.

Adica July 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

I just wanted to let you know that I had a dream last night about turning my compost. Lol.

Daisy July 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

Adica–A dream-worthy subject, imo!

Sherry July 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Should I still be adding to the pile or starting a new one now? It smells very healthy. My husband loves to turn it for me. Any ideas how to get a big woodchuck from visiting. I have a live trap right next to it and that isn’t working. He ate all my cuke plants. grrrrr!

Daisy July 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Sherry–It depends on what you want to use it for. I want to put mine on the beds before I plant my fall garden, so I’ve stopped adding so it will be ready then. If you don’t have a “deadline” you can keep adding. I’m at a loss regarding the naughty woodchuck!

Terry July 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Mine is in a tumbler container and it is getting very dark and appears to be decomposing. I am planning to get a large plastic trash can for my second”pile” and will start it I hope next week, leaving the first batch to finish cooking. I am really enjoying this process and am quite surprised by the amount of compostable materials my husband and I have generated in such a short amount of time. Thanks for getting us all started!

Rosalyn July 11, 2012 at 4:54 am

Things are looking good in my compost bed too, although I have been a little less diligent this past week with keeping it moist in hot, dry weather. I DEFINITELY have a lot of big chunks in mine, although larger kitchen scraps I had tried to chop into smaller pieces to avoid it. I unfortunately started it just before the Compost-Along came along and so there are a lot of large rooted perennials and sticks that were chucked in there early on. But I am cool with putting chunks in my garden and allowing for compost that releases nutrients over a longer period, it will just keep it going a little better till the next pile is ready, I hope! I have started a second pile, and am keeping things a little smaller in that one. 🙂

Just a quick question, have any of you noticed an increase in earwig populations in your yard since you started this little escapade? I have had my container garden on my deck literally destroyed by them. I’m glad I have a community garden plot, but hundreds of tiny carrot seedlings, a zucchini plant, two red pepper plants, and a whole crop of beans planted just beside our deck have all been completely obliterated by earwigs. I read that mulching (check) and compost piles (check) will attract them. I haven’t yet set out traps, but was wondering what you guys do (if anything) to combat this problem?

Sondra July 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I had to have the hubby put a few holes in my bin. Even with the hot weather it was too wet from the massive storm we had come through. It looks like yours though & with plenty of bugs to help it along!

Rosalyn, I have noticed earwigs are bad this year everywhere, not just in the plants. I can handle most bugs, but they just give me the heebie-jeebies…eww, skin crawling just thinking about them.

Ayisha July 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I don’t even remember how I came about your blog, but I have been hooked ever since! I read almost all of your posts in one day! I want to start gardening so bad, but I am so SCARED! I don’t want to fail. I thought starting a compost would be a good way to get started, and maybe by the time it was ready I would be ready to dive in, but I have hardly any yard waste right now! We have had above 100 degree weather for 10+ days, and nothing is growing so there is nothing to trim. Plus there are no mature trees really so there are no leaves! What’s a girl to do??? 🙁 So, maybe I will just have to buy soil to add to my native dirt, and start my compost in the fall. Meantime, just want to let you know I love reading along.

Daisy July 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Ayisha–You are SWEET! Thank you! Don’t be scared, Ayisha. You can do it. This year just put a tomato plant in a big pot, surround it with basil, and start stockpiling grass clippings for your compost pile. When fall comes you might find some leaves? Before you know it, you’ll have compost and it will be time for next year’s garden.

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