How To: Speed Up the Composting Process

Speed Up the Composting Process

Composting is said to be every gardener's gold, but making compost and getting it ready could take up to a year. Professional growers have discovered that compost activators can help speed up composting quickly…sometimes to as little as 30 days!

6 Steps to Speed Up Composting

Step 1 Build a small compost pile.

Size does matter, and if your compost heap is deep and large and wide, the center may have a long time heating up. Another thing - decay starts from the bottom up and especially during the cold season, a large pile could easily cool down quickly. A three-foot cube is ideal for a fast-"burning" compost, cutting down composting time significantly.

Step 2 Fill 'er up all at once.

Some gardeners take their sweet time adding organic material to their compost bin. They mix in waste matter as they become available. This is a sure recipe for a long wait for compost to be ready. To really speed up composting, fill up your compost bin all at once with leaves, grass clippings, twigs and shredded sticks, animal manure (except dog and cat poo) without the beddings, fish meal, vegetable scrap, shredded newspaper and cardboard, garden refuse, and so on. This one-time fill will jumpstart microbial activity, getting them to work immediately in burning waste.

Step 3 Turn up the heat.

How fast waste material turns into compost is often dictated by how fast microbes "burn" organic matter. One way to ensure that your heap is heating up even on rainy days is to cover it with a lid or tarp so excess water won't bring down the temperature of the compost pile.

Step 4 Keep compost from getting soggy.

Avoid getting your compost heap thoroughly drenched with water. A waterlogged compost bin or compost pile encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which will turn your organic waste material into one stinky, fermented pile that would be of little use to your garden. To test if your pile has the correct moisture level, squeeze a handful. If juice seeps out, your compost heap has gone soggy. Aim for the feel of a sponge that's been wrung dry but is still moist to the touch.

Step 5 Turn compost pile regularly.

Mix and turn your compost pile regularly to get oxygen circulating freely. Make sure that your compost bin is also punctured in places to allow for air to flow through. Absent the oxygen, anaerobic microbes start thriving, and you get a stinky pile that could drive your neighbors up the wall. Some gardeners swear by a thrice weekly routine in turning the compost pile believing that compost will be ready in several weeks, rather than several months.

Step 6 Use a compost activator.

The decomposition of organic waste is directly proportional to the density of microbial material present in your compost heap. Meaning, if you're working with gazillions of microbes, the shorter the time for compost to be ready.

Some growers hurry the process along with the use of effective compost activators available in the market today. These professional-grade products teem with beneficial microbes and proprietary nutrient mixes (food for the microbes).  Whether you're a commercial grower or a backyard gardener, using a compost activator will help set off decomposition as soon as these microbes land on organic waste.

Warnings

  • Be aware though that non-professional products or cheap imitations are also being sold in the market. These products don't contain the kind of microbes that you need to help transform your organic waste material into compost. 
  • Make sure that you only purchase your compost activators from manufacturers and suppliers who carry the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) seal.

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