If you live or work on a farm or homestead, you probably know about turning compost. Nobody wants to do it but it has to be done. Let's just be honest here: it's a B*TCH to do! That said, with a few simple tweaks, you can take some of the back-breaking stress out of it.
For example, having a multi-tiered compost bin helps tremendously! The idea here is that you start with the first tier, let's call it Compost Bin #1, and you put your fresh scraps in there, then cover it with plenty of dry carbon materials like straw, yellowed grass, dry leaves or wood chips. All the while, you're making sure not to let it go anaerobic. We always want to produce aerobic compost - that is, compost that breathes. We never want to produce anaerobic soil that gets stagnant and smells gross. If you made something slimy that smells disgusting, you probably made anaerobic compost and you will need to start over. Regular aerobic compost rarely smells like anything other than soil and any smell that may come off it gets trapped in the carbon layer.
The second tier, Compost Bin #2, would be for compost that's approximately 40-75% complete. Once your first tier has had a chance to heat up and break down for a few weeks, it will almost be ready for the third bin. You'll know it's time to turn your second tier when the compost begins to break down and heat up to the point of almost looking like soil, but still has big chunks in it. It may also still have certain foods and other matter that have not fully broken down yet. This is normal. You can wait until you feel like it has broken down enough and then turn it into the third bin. It's really a subjective decision so trust your gut.
The third bin, Compost Bin #3, is for stuff that's almost done but needs a little bit more time. On our homestead, we rarely wait until compost is 100% done. We need our compost before it's had a chance to finish and, so far, that's worked out for us. But please do your own testing before you try our methods. For us, 90% is good enough and we'll throw that directly on the top soil of our trees and plants and then cover it back up with mulch. At 90% completion, it has the consistency of good, rich, black soil but still has a few twigs and chunks in it that are not quite done. That's fine for us. We figure the rest will happen naturally on top of the soil and below the mulch, until they all amalgamate and become one anyway. That's up to you to decide. Think of what works best for your own environment and individual applications.
If you need to leave your compost in the third bin, that's totally fine. You can leave it there indefinitely. I would recommend putting a tarp below it if you plan to leave it there long term though or else it will just work its way back into the soil below your compost bin. But that's OK too! The soil beneath our compost bins is so healthy that we have used it for compost on a few occasions. In a pinch, when you don't have anything else, it works great as a temporary alternative!
However you decide to compost it is up to you. Just know that it doesn't have to be complicated. You're just making the inside of each pile the outside of the next one. That's all turning compost is. Inside to outside and repeat, while cover it all up with dry carbon material. Over time, you end up with rich soil with not that much effort.
Lastly, keeping your compost pile moist is important. If you live in a dry area, you may want to consider spraying your compost pile before it dries out and also covering it with a tarp. Compost piles need to be moist (not wet, moist) in order to achieve the right temperatures. If you really want to get technical with it, buy a thermometer and stick it in there from time to time to make sure that your compost is still heating up to the appropriate temperatures. Look up what those are. Even during the winter, your compost should be spewing steam. You can even use some of its residual energy to heat your greenhouse! There are a lot of surprising uses for a compost pile other than building material for soil amendments. A few Google searches should generate some interesting ideas for you.
Have fun with it! It doesn't have to be a chore. It can be an important time to reflect and think about new, creative ways to work with nature's cycles.
Thanks for watching! :)