I’d wondered for a while how well compost aerators would work. When I hurt my shoulder and couldn’t turn my compost in 2022, it seemed like a good idea to try one out!
I ordered the Darlac Compost Aerator DP788, and it’s a very usable, if not perfect, tool.
Do note that this device is currently not available in the USA. If you’re in the UK, though, do read on!
Turning compost can be hard work.
I do turn my compost – it used to be twice, but now I am switching to once.
However, if you need to turn your compost more than once – for example, if it needs more oxygen to get going, or if it becomes too hot – it can become a real pain.
Compost aerators are designed to make this easier. They still take a bit of effort, but many times less than turning the compost pile.
Putting the Darlac compost aerator together was simple enough. Just fix the T-handle to the device with the provided screws and bolts.
The aerator is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel. I’ve had mine for eight months now, and it’s been left outside a few times, but there’s no sign of rust.
The idea is that you simply push the device into the compost. As you pull it back up, the blades open and pull the compost from below back to the top.
This both creates air passages and mixes up the material. By providing bacteria with both oxygen and with less decomposed material, you can keep the compost hot and ensure a more evenly decomposed pile.
However, when I first used the aerator, when I pulled the aerator back up, the blades didn’t always open. To solve this, I found I needed to give it a twist and a wiggle.
That may be because the compost was already fairly broken down. When I tried again with fresher compost, and less broken-down material, the aerator worked perfectly.
Do note you may find this more difficult to use if you place sticks at the bottom of the pile, as the blades will catch the branches and try to pull them through.
Good for medium-sized piles, not for large piles
Do note that Darlac Aerator is less than three feet long.
My piles can get close to 6 feet high, at which point it would be useless.
If you have a large compost heap, it’s probably not going to be of much use to you.
However, piles do reduce significantly in size, so if you want to further aerate your pile after turning or after it has shrunk in size, you may still find it useful.
I like the device.
It helped me keep my compost hot for two weeks, and when I used the compost it was well-rotted throughout.
Of course, it could have turned out well anyway. Still, using the aerator does mean you are filling one of the key principles of aerobic composting – providing oxygen.
However, (and leaving aside the question of price!) on balance I prefer the Ejwox Aerator.
The Ejwox has a corkscrew like action. Once you’ve inserted the aerator, you can either pull it up with the material inside, or you can unscrew it to create an air passage.
The design also means there aren’t any problems with the flaps opening.
However, at least in the UK, the Ejwox is quite a lot more expensive than the Darlac aerator. So if you want something which can aerate your compost, but doesn’t cost a lot, the Darlac might be the best option for you.
Available on Amazon UK