How Can You Speed Up Composting?

How can you speed up the composting process?

Material Size

The first thing to remember is small pieces will decompose faster than large pieces just like digesting food. If you chew it well, it will digest better and faster. The same goes for composting. Small pieces will decompose much faster than a tree trunk.

Shred paper products before adding to your compost pile. If you’re adding veggies, then chop them up into small pieces. Small pieces have more surface area that bacteria and beneficial microbes can act on. Small pieces are also easier for worms to eat.

Proper C/N Ratio

If you have an imbalance in the carbon to nitrogen ratio or brown to green ratio, composting will slow down. Try to use 2 parts brown and 1 part green. If your compost smells, add more brown. If your compost pile is cold and not decomposing, add more green.

Moisture

If your compost pile dries out it will halt. Keep it moist but not soaked. Add water and turn when it looks a little dry or every 2-3 days. Moisture will allow bacteria and microbes to thrive and attract worms.

This is why compost bins work so well. They keep the moisture inside. If you don’t have a bin, it may be hard to keep it from drying out. Try moving your compost to a shady spot to preserve moisture.

Heat

A well developed compost pile will be pretty hot, around 140 degrees on the inside. If the compost gets too cold it will slow down. A compost bin will assist in preserving heat generated by decomposition. Adding more green to a compost can increase it’s temperature. I read about a gentleman that added a bucket of fruit waste to his compost and it doubled its temperature.

Size It Right

A 3′ x 3′ square compost pile will generate heat more quickly than a smaller or larger compost pile. This size happens to be the perfect size for fast composting.

Oxygen

Decomposition requires oxygen. If your compost pile does not get enough aeration and oxygen, it will slow down or stop. Turn your compost frequently to introduce more air/oxygen into the mix. This will speed up decomposing. Try turning your compost once per week.

Compost Accelerators

Add a layer of cow or horse manure to your compost. It will heat it up and speed up decomposition.

Here is a homemade accelerator – mix 2 shovelfuls of good soil, 1 packet of dry yeast and 1/4 cup of molasses in a 5 gallon bucket. Add warm water up to about 3″ of the top. Stir the mixture and then place it in the sun for 24-48 hours. Stir the mixture a few times during this period. When it’s done brewing, pour it over your compost pile. Your compost pile should heat up to about 160 degrees F. Now turn the compost frequently.

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