Skip to Content

Compost Fork, What the Professionals Say

A compost fork is essential if you’re a gardening enthusiast or a professional gardener. It can help you create high-quality compost critical for meeting your soil’s nutritional needs. There are other solutions for extensive gardens, but a compost fork is a way to go in many situations.

Compost fork:

A compost fork is a tool primarily used to lift, break and settle the compost clumps in a garden. It is made of fine narrow needlepoint tines, making it easier to penetrate compost, lift, aerate, and turn. It has a wide surface area that significantly aids in raising and turning over the compost.

In this article, I will give further insights and detailed uses of various types of forks used in composting, including things about a manure fork, a pitchfork, and a garden fork.

What Is a Compost Fork?

A compost fork is generally used to turn, aerate, and mix compost piles. Its primary purpose is to jumble and fuse the organic matter into the compost and ensure the air supply for the decomposition of organic matter continues efficiently.

Compost Forl Build:

A compost fork consists of long metallic tines with an incline that is effective in amalgamating organic matter, manure, and compost. It helps mix them evenly and thoroughly to be available for uptake by the plant roots via soil. A compost fork is very convenient to be used as it swirls and turns the compost piles without letting you touch it in the first place for cross-infection control or the need for shoveling. A compost fork is an excellent garden tool to ensure a healthy compost pile. 

Compost Fork Uses:

Illuminating some of the primary purposes of the compost fork are to:

  • Aerate the compost pile efficiently: Since oxygen and carbon dioxide are essential in decaying organic matter, certain nutrients and minerals are released from their complex chemical bonds within the manure and the soil. To speed up the decaying of organic matter in symbiosis with fungi, algae, and soil bacteria, aeration is essential for this chemical reaction to continue. The compost fork aids in allowing air to diffuse into the compost, accelerating the entire process.
  • Evenly distribution of fertilizer in soil: A compost fork helps ensure fertilizer supply and enriched soil to the roots. It blends other yard waste and scraps into a uniform pile for the plants. The kitchen scraps contain organic materials that can serve as essential nutrients for growing plant roots. The compost fork ensures mixing all the materials into one pile for the plantation.
  • Allows easy access and handling for the pile while protecting your hands from rampant germs and bacteria in a compost pile. 

What Kind of Fork Should I Use for Composting?

Very few kinds of forks can be used when it comes to compost piles and their application to garden beds. Each of these types has its specific uses and benefits.

1. Pitchfork

Pitchfork is one of the most traditional and typical forks used as a gardening tool. It is made of solid, sturdy tines that are highly useful in aerating and turning compost piles. In addition, they are also beneficial in breaking up the manure and the soil into even fine particles and redistributing them throughout the stack. 

2. Compost Turner 

As the name suggests, this tool was created to turn the compost. It is composed of longer tines than other types with a curved incline that allows it to penetrate deep into the pile and turn the compost over. It is also beneficial in aerating the compost piles. It is also made up of a sturdy wooden handle that is convenient to use and rotate to turn and mix the pile. 

3. Border Fork 

This specific type of fork is used in the floral garden and small beds. It is often small and lightweight, with shorter tines for small gardens. They find their use in smaller compost piles needed for flower beds and gardens and can also be used to turn the soil and aerate it. 

4. Manure Fork

People often get confused between a manure fork and a pitchfork. Manure forks often blend large amounts of animal manure into a compost pile. These forks are similar in structure and function, with minor details that help them differentiate. A manure fork has broader and shorter tines specifically designed to handle and relocate heavier materials like manure. 

5. Garden Fork

One of the most commonly and widely used forks is the garden fork. It is smaller, lighter, and excellent for use in various garden beds as a modified pitchfork. It finds applications in various regimens, such as composting, soil turning, and aerating. 

What Is the Best Tool for Turning Compost?

When dealing with the query of the best tool for turning compost, the answer is subjective to the user’s needs and criteria. Many pieces of gardening equipment could perform the task aptly, such as a compost turner, a pitchfork, a shovel, a compost tumbler, etc. 

1. Compost Turners

However, gardening pros have often mentioned that the compost turner is the best tool for turning compost. What makes it one of the best tools is the long-curved fines that penetrate deep within the compost pile to help turn it over conveniently. The handle is user-friendly, with a sturdy wooden build that allows the pile to rotate easily without demanding a lot of force.

2. Automatic Compost Turners

Compost turners have also been mechanized to aid farmers and gardeners alike. The manual and automatic versions of compost turners are available in the markets. The mechanized version provides an easier and more efficient way of turning compost. However, the automatic version is a bit costly; hence, the manual compost turner supersedes all other types in user reliability, cost, effectiveness, ease of handling, shelf life, and functionality. 

3. Compost Tumblers

Some gardeners also prefer to use a compost tumbler by a compost turner to aid the turning mechanism. It is a rotating drum that rotates on a horizontal axis, assisting the compost blending quickly and conveniently. These tumblers are great for smaller compost piles, germaphobes, and the infected who want a touchless approach to turning compost. 

What Is a Manure Fork Called?

A manure fork, sometimes called a stable fork or a mucking fork is frequently used and specifically designed to move, relocate and handle manure.

Manure forks resemble a pitchfork in their basic build. However, it has wider, shorter, and sturdier tines to hold all sorts of rich manure and denser organic materials. These manure forks are used to move bedding and manure.

They effectively move large amounts of animal manure to the compost piles for an enriched formation. Manure forks are not commonly used in smaller floral gardens. They find their use in stables, barns, etc. 

What Does a Manure Fork Look Like?

Since they look alike, it is often difficult to differentiate between a manure fork and a pitchfork. However, a manure fork has some general features of identification.

A manure fork generally has an angled, flat head with steel or metal tines and a long wooden handle. Tines on a manure fork are typically thicker and more robust than the thinner tines of a pitchfork.

These tines’ sturdier build uses a manure fork to handle heavier manure and compost piles without bending or breaking. 

A manure fork typically possesses a wooden or plastic handle with a suitable length to provide ample support and a comfortable grip to the worker. Because of their limited size and angulation, many older forks cause significant back pains and lower back problems. However, a manure fork is convenient and easy to use and minimizes the involvement of back muscles to avoid all sorts of injuries. Some manure forks even come with a D-handle to assist in handling this fork.

A manure fork has wider tines to assist in picking up heavier materials without slipping through the tines. It is used to handle heavy manure, bedding, and waste. The angled tines and the comfortable handle make it a suitable gardening tool. 

How Do You Use Manure Forks?

Using a manure fork is more straightforward. There are a few steps to keep in mind while using a manure fork:

  • Step 1. Consider the pile size: The first and foremost step is to choose the appropriate size of the fork for your needs, considering the size of the compost piles you are dealing with.
  • Step 2. Clear the area: The next step is to ensure that the area to work on is clear of any stones or debris that might impede the process.
  • Step 3. Lift the material: Grasping the fork’s handle firmly with your legs at arm’s length, lift the material using your glutes and leg muscles.
  • Step 4. Relocate the pile: You can relocate the material to the desired place once the sturdy metal tines of the manure fork have lifted it.
  • Step 5. Clean after use: After usage, clean the fork thoroughly to prevent rusting and store it in a dry place to avoid spoilage. 

Note: A manure fork is a heavy tool; hence, a correct technique is essential. Failure to do so could result in back aches and fatigue. 

Do I Need a Pitchfork?

A pitchfork is an excellent choice for fluffing compost and aerating soil while working in a barn or a stable. It is a versatile tool with a lightweight handle and long thin tines that are useful in moving loose materials like leaves and straws. 

I do not recommend using a pitchfork for heavy materials like manure, for which a manure fork is far better. But a pitchfork can be an excellent tool for composting piles with leaves, hay, and straws that need relocation and mixing. 

How to Use a Garden Fork?

As a garden fork can aerate and loosen the soil, ensure you use it properly without affecting your plantation. It is an excellent choice for small gardens and flower beds to pick up small compost piles.

  • Clean the area: Before using a garden fork, ensure the area is prepared and clean.
  • Use a strong grip and legs: Use the handle of the garden fork and pick the piles or compost up with the tines, engaging your legs in the process.
  • Technique: It is crucial to employ the proper technique while using a garden fork to ensure good compost piles and aeration turns. See the earlier mentioned steps for this.