Leaf piles from autumn trees make perfect raw material for your compost bin. But to make sure all that organic matter is composting properly, it’s crucial maintain the right temperature and air circulation – so a simple compost thermometer and turner can make all the difference.
Keep Compost Aerated
For fast, odor-free decomposition of organic material in a compost pile, keeping the compost aerated is critical. This maintains even moisture, shifts material to the higher temperature “core” of the pile, and provides oxygen for all the aerobic organisms involved in the process.
Garden forks work fine for bigger piles with access from the sides, but we love this handy compost turner from Tumbleweed. The angled prong at the end makes it easier to push the tool deep into the pile, and the sturdy 32″ handle provides leverage to mix the compost by turning and pulling.
Tumbleweed Compost Turner / Aerator, $14.99 at Amazon.
Maintain Ideal Compost Temperature
The organic breakdown that happens during composting produces heat (known as an exothermic reaction for you technically-minded folks); in turn, maintaining the ideal temperature range promotes faster composting. It’s also worth noting that keeping the temperature at the higher end of this range can help maintain a healthier compost heap by killing off pathogens, weeds, and fly larvae (the Agriculture Program at Washington State University offers some great information on maintaining proper compost temperature).
A simple and durable compost thermometer takes the guesswork out of maintaining the proper heat levels in your compost bin. This one from Reotemp is sealed to keep moisture out, it displays readings up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 20″ probe allows accurate readings from inside the core of the compost matter.
Reotemp Compost Thermometer, $25 at Amazon.