When I was building my latest raised bed, I noticed an aroma in the air that smelled like something from the south end of a north-bound kangaroo (as my daughter is fond of saying). Didn’t take too long to realize my compost was stinky; time to turn it!
Turning, or aerating, compost serves several purposes, not least of which is preventing it from stinking to high heaven. It mixes around the different materials, gets moisture into the dry spots, opens up the wet spots, prevents mold, and breaks the compost into smaller pieces. Since it’s been a rainy spring, I haven’t had to wet my compost at all; however, I am turning it with a pitchfork about every two weeks to prevent odor and mold. There is no hard-and-fast rule on how often to turn compost, but remembering it once in awhile is beneficial.
If your grass is growing like mine, you probably have an abundance of grass clippings. While I usually leave my grass clippings in the yard to fertilize the grass (grass clippings are high in nitrogen, why pay for nitrogen fertilizer?), I do rake them up when they’re thick so they don’t smother the grass underneath. Add the clippings to your compost; they provide a good source of nitrogen, especially at this time of year when your compost may be light on nitrogen. I also use clippings as mulch around my plants to keep moisture in and weeds out.