Forum home Tools and techniques

Good composting practice?: How often should you turn it? 2 bay v 3 bay? covered or uncovered?

Hi all, What is considered good composting practice?:

How often should I turn my bays? (eg once a week, once a fortnight, once a month?)

How often should I water them?

Does the 2 bay method follow different rules to the 3 bay method? (eg do you flip the compost in to the second bin less often as there are only two bays?)

Should I leave the compost bay covered (eg with tarp or foam) in between turning, or leave it open to the elements?

Thanks.

Posts

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 1,867
    A lot depends on the volume of material you need to process. Loads of material - 3 bay, average garden size, 2 bay. The first bay reduces by half fairly quickly then gets turned to the second. Re-fill, wait till reduced then add to second bin. Repeat. When you have no more room in the second bin turn it into third for storage or onto garden. 
    Turning more than once a month sounds like a makework scheme to me but I can be a lazy sod. I have a two bay setup which I keep covered with both a large lid to keep the rain off and insulation packed bags to keep the heat in. I have never needed to water them but would do it if it got too dry.
    As they say "your mileage may vary" as material variety and local weather have an impact.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,361
    Have a read of this - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=444

    A lot depends on the size of your bins, the material you're composting, moisture levels, heat etc.  You need to achieve a balance of green, nitrogen rich material with the brown, carbon rich materials.  There needs to be enough moisture for the micro organisms to get to work and some warmth.  A lid will help retain moisture and warmth and speed up the process.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,151
    It takes me around 6 to 9 months to make compost suitable for mulching. I use a 2 bin plus builders dumpy bags system.

    I think it’s more important to get the layering and moisture levels right than turning. Try to alternate 6-8” layers of brown and green materials. The dumpy bags are useful for temporary storage of large quantities of green or brown material when they are in excess (leaves in autumn, shreddings in spring, grass cutting in summer etc) so you can continue layering through the year.

    It’s important the bin is not too dry. It shouldn’t be wet or even that moist - it just doesn’t want to dry out. If damp material is going in that is often enough moisture but I live in a very dry part of the country so I am usually adding bone dry material. I might give the bin a good soaking every couple of months in the summer.

    When bin A has been emptied onto the garden I refill it with the contents of bin B and leave it to cook. This counts as turning the bin so probably only gets done once. There’s usually some compost ready to use at the bottom of bin B so this is either spread on the garden or bagged up and then bin B is ready to start filling with fresh material. I’d expect bin A to be ready for emptying again about 4 or 5 months later.

    My bins are sturdy plastic ones and the sides completely open up to make emptying very easy. I do use the lids to keep moisture in and excess rain out.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • I have 2 uncovered heaps, one for adding to, the other resting. I allow 12 moths for heap 2 to mature before use. I never turn mine, too old and infirm, but do put plenty of coarse material on, thin prunings etc. If I happen to have some spare plastic sheeting, old carpet etc. I do throw it over the top of heap 2. Any tough unrotted bits go back on heap 2, must not waste anything. I always put clumps of roots, grass etc. upside down and leave dandelion roots etc to dry out completely before committing them to the heap.
    I get a very perverse satisfaction in watching them die slowly!
  • I have 2 uncovered heaps, one for adding to, the other resting. I allow 12 moths for heap 2 to mature before use. I never turn mine, too old and infirm, but do put plenty of coarse material on, thin prunings etc. If I happen to have some spare plastic sheeting, old carpet etc. I do throw it over the top of heap 2. Any tough unrotted bits go back on heap 2, must not waste anything. I always put clumps of roots, grass etc. upside down and leave dandelion roots etc to dry out completely before committing them to the heap.
    I get a very perverse satisfaction in watching them die slowly!

    :D

    Thanks all for all your advice + links, very helpful and informative as always!

Sign In or Register to comment.