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 Composting: Cool Tools

For those that really enjoy backyard composting, you may want to invest in a compost thermometer.  They sell for about $20 and are available at garden centers or online.  The advantage of a composting thermometer is that it will tell you the internal heat of the pile.  Composting happens best if the temperature is somewhere between 100 and 140 degrees.  So this composting thermometer is a great tool to tell you if your pile is working, or it’s gone to sleep.
When it comes to turning the compost pile, there are a lot of different ways to do it.  In other words, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  One of the most traditional ways, of course, is to use a regular spade.  The problem with a spade is that when you have a lot of debris, it may not cut through, and it makes it really hard to turn.  But, a garden spade will work.
A lot of people prefer to use a regular garden fork.  Those tines will get down amongst the material, help pull it up, and turn it without a lot of work.
Some people may also use a regular fork.  It acts similar to the spading fork, but it has smaller tines.  So with tight, twisted material, it can get through it and help pull that material up.
For those of you that are into the latest gadget for the compost pile, you may want to invest in what is called a compost auger.  It works much like a drill bit going into pile.  First, you insert it, and you take quick, little jabs in and out.  I have a word of caution from previous experience, “don’t bite off more than you can chew.”  It really pulls your back muscles.  Who would have thought that turning organic debris into valuable compost could also give you a workout.  By turning the compost pile, you’ll get some great exercise.
This feature story prepared with Dennis Patton, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Johnson County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.