Turn, turn, turn for better compost
Compost is that wonderful combination of microscopic mineral particles and decomposed organic material that makes your garden thrive. Composting is what gardeners do to control, or assist the naturally occurring decaying of organic matter.
In the forest, leaves, plants, fruits and nuts, animal waste and other organic matter decay over time to return to the soil. This process continuously replenishes the soil with the nutrients essential for plant growth. But natural or unassisted organic decomposition is usually relatively slow. Moisture content is inconsistent; the decaying plants, leaves and animals can be relatively large; and the mix of materials in any given area can be somewhat unbalanced.
Turning your composting bins eliminates the problems associated with slow decomposition.
To make great compost in a relatively short time, you need a good combination of materials, adequate moisture, critical mass and help from nature (microbes, worms and other bugs). (See Best Ingredients for Composting Bins)
Turning your composting bin does the following:
-Redistributes moisture throughout the mix, since the outside of the mixture dries out quickly, especially in the summer
-Redistributes the microbe population (and worms, if you have them) to fresh food supplies, where they will digest the organic materials and reproduce
-Helps maintain a balance of green and brown materials (assuming you started with, and have maintained a good mixture)
-Breaks up clumps, so that smaller particles are available for the bugs and worms that turn raw organic matter into compost
How the Mantis Compostumbler and you can make turning easier
Strive for small particles
You’ll make better and faster compost if you add small particulate matter to your composting bin. Shredded dry leaves are much better than whole leaves. Coffee grounds are great. Grass clippings should be mixed with leaves if possible, to prevent clumping. Chop up any stalks from tomato plants or any whole fruits. The little microbes and worms prefer smaller particles (their mouths are much smaller than ours!) and turning a large batch of small particles is much easier.
Maintain a moist mix
Just like your garden soil, your composting mix needs the right amount of moisture for optimum performance. Not too wet; not too dry. If your mixture is very dry, consisting of large amounts of dry shredded leaves, for example, add water. Turn the composing bin to distribute the water throughout the mix; then, turn the composting bin so that the ventilation/drainage vent is at the bottom. Excess moisture will leak out of the vent.
Be careful to avoid over-watering as a waterlogged mix will be harder to turn.
Break up large clumps by hand
Whilst the Mantis Compostumbler is easy to turn and will mix the ingredients quite well without assistanc, it may be necessary to break up some stubborn clumps by hand. If you’ve added a lot of grass clippings, they may form clumps or mats. Simply reach inside the compost bin to break up and mix any clumps. Using only well shredded or chopped up material should eliminate the need to break up clumps by hand. However, some people actually like to get a close look at their composting activity.
Turn your compostumbler whenever you add new material
Remember that whenever you add new material to you compost bin, you’re resetting the composting to “day 1”. If, however, you take several days or even a couple of weeks to fill the composting bin, just be sure to give it a few good turns every time you add fresh materials.
Do you really need to turn your compostumbler every day?
No. Turning your compost bin every day is ideal, but not absolutely necessary. Composting should be fun, not work! If you miss a day or two, don’t give up. Just get back to turning the compost bin as soon as you can. With the right mix of composting materials, adequate moisture and frequent mixing, you’ll soon have the sweet-smelling, wonderfully nutritious, disease-fighting compost working in your garden.
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