Once the compost bin had been built, it was put to good use. At first it was just a repository for all the garden debris, raked leaves and the like that accumulated all summer as I worked away. On my weekends home I had time to pile in the compostables and to turn the piles as chance happened. Considering all the usual stuff like being a husband, father and grandfather, mowing the lawn, doing a few house upkeep things and so on, mostly I just kept piling stuff in to take care of later. Come fall it was later and the four bins were full. They needed turning maintaining. Unfortunately, with all four full and some other material waiting, I could not just toss one pile into the empty bin, then the next into that now empty bin and so on.
My solution was obvious and I needed a workout anyway. It was early October and the garden needed to be put to bed with annuals being pulled and the dahlias cut and the tubers put away. This of course made another pile to add to the piles. I needed to empty one bin to a pile in front of the station and use the empty bin to hold the material from the one beside it and dominoe the piles. My tools of choice for working a compost pile have made themselves known through the years. A snow shovel, a spade and a manure fork. Sometimes a rake makes it into the lot.
I arbitrarily chose the bin on the right and started moving compost. It has held material the longest and will be the first used.
In a short time about a half of the bin has made a new pile in front of the compost station. The material could use some moisture. One should look at a working compost pile as a living thing. It needs food which it supplies from itself, air which it gets to all parts by being peridically turned, and water which can be supplied by rainfall, moisture in the compost material, or as needed from a hose.
The fork is the most used tool until the bottom of the compost bin. I have tried regular garden forks as well as shovels of various kinds, but a long and narrow tined fork intended for moving hay or manure is by far the best for turning a compost pile and makes short work of the job. However, as the bottom is neared a lot of fine material has fallen through the fork and it is time for the snow shovel.
After a few strokes of the snow shovel it is time to move on to the next bin. Actually any broad shovel will do but snow shovels are practically designed for the job and everyone in Nova Scotia seems to have a snow shovel anyway.