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How to Maintain a Compost Site

You will flip your contribution bin or ADD HERE bin (Bin 1) whenever it gets full or at least once per month into your next available bin (Bin 2). You will not add fresh contributions to Bin 2, and you may even post a sign that says “DO NOT ADD” to make it clear for all users. When your ADD HERE bin gets full again, you will flip BIN 2 into BIN 3 and then flip your ADD HERE bin to BIN 2. Now all three bins are full but are in different stages of decomposition. By labeling your bins and not adding fresh contributions to them, you are speeding up the composting process and will produce a superior product that benefits from more even decomposition and the higher temperatures necessary to kill pathogens and weed seeds.

Next time your ADD HERE bin is full, move BIN 3 into a “RESTING PILE” and repeat above steps. Your resting pile is now on its way to being finished compost (see How and When to Use “Resting Pile” Compost). Repeat this three-bin sequence throughout the spring and summer months, right up until it is time to winterize your community compost site (see Winter Composting). As the growing season ends and fall approaches, it is recommended that gardeners administer unfinished compost directly to their gardens and cover with hay, straw, or leaves. This is a form of sheet composting and can add valuable nutrients to the soil without the work of turning and watering. It also attracts earthworms to your plot. Moreover, overwintering the compost this way keeps frost barrier above your topsoil. In the spring, gardeners can rake any unfinished decomposed residuals to their compost pile.


Ideally, you want your compostable material to be like a damp or well-wrung sponge. We realize that not everyone has easy access to water their compost site. Watering and flipping your compost will produce a finished product faster. If you have even limited access to water and are able to water during the act of flipping, that is optimum. Flipping your compost bins on a rainy day is a great natural way to water your pile.

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