How Often Should I Empty My Compost Bin?

Views: 14673 | Last Update: 2009-02-04
A compost bin can be emptied whenever the compost has turned to a soil-like consistency, which occurs when the pile has enough air and moisture to break down its contents. Learn about keeping a compost heap with plant tips from a sustainable gardener in... View Video Transcript

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Yolanda Vanveen

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen. And in this segment we're going to talk about how often should I empty my compost bin? Now compost is a great way to make your own soil for your garden. And you can use pretty much anything that's biodegradable in compost. Whether it's your fruit or vegetables or leaf or grass clippings, the key is to mix them all up really well, you can take newspaper and cut it into little pieces too. All that belongs in compost. Now to know when it's ready, there is a few rules. And basically the trick with compost is to constantly stir it up and mix it up and shake it up. And if it's too dry and the leaves are just dry, add some water too. You don't want it to be too dry either, you want it to be kind of a thick consistency. And you don't want it to smell at all. So if it's still breaking down and has an odor then you need more air in there, so you really need to add more newspaper or more dried leaves, because you want it to have a lot of air at the same time. But a good rule of thumb for me, is you know when it's time to empty your compost bin when it has turned into soil, black gold. This big pile of compost is just like what it would be in your bin and I've got leaves that were just cut down and those are obviously not ready. We've got all kinds of grass clippings that are still fresh, you can see they're still green and they haven't broken down in any way, and so none of this is ready yet. But if you go deeper and go deeper and go deeper, you will find that if I go down to the next level, right here, I'm getting into some black gold. Whenever it's the consistency of dirt, this has got some roots in it too. But whenever you go down or your compost is the consistency of nice soil, then you know it's ready. And then you can turn around and put it right into your raised beds or straight a new raised bed. Or just put a little layer around your plants that are existing at the moment, because it's just the best nutrition that you can give to your plants. It has all the nutrients that they need for the next year, and so I have found even if it's just the bottom layers or just part of it is turned black but as long as you keep mixing it up, and it looks like good organic soil, you don't have big pieces of leaves or branches in there anymore, then it's ready to empty. So just spread it out and put it into your garden and you can start a new bin again. It's that easy. Composting is very natural.