Regular maintenance helps your compost pile work quicker. Add thin layers of topsoil or finished compost to your pile to introduce microorganisms that create compost. Water enough to keep it moist but not soggy. Turn your compost regularly-once a week if possible-to keep it aerated. If that doesn't produce compost as quickly as you desire, turn the pile more often, add more nitrogen-rich (green) materials, and shred or chop the carbon-rich (brown) materials before adding them to the pile. You'll know your compost is ready for the garden when it is dark and crumbly and most of the plant parts are decomposed.