In Brief: How To Speed Up Composting
Composting can take as long as 1 year to be ready for use, which can be too long for some. Luckily, there are some great ways that you can speed up the composting process using natural and organic methods that will actually make your compost pile even healthier. Here is how to speed up composting.
A cold compost pile can take from a few months to a few years to be ready for use. Fortunately, gardeners do not need to wait so long if they follow the different tips and tricks that we cover below.
Most compost can be ready between 14-21 days. Here is how to get quick results without compromising the quality of your compost.
How Much Time Composting Takes
The most popular composting method, known as the Indore Method, requires the gardener to pile up carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials in layers.
When done, these need to stay for approximately one year before reaching perfect.
Fortunately, many composters found different versions of this method to speed up this process successfully.
Before reading the next lines, it is important to understand that fast composting requires more effort compared to the traditional, lengthy method.
While the usual compost takes about 1 year and there is nothing much to do, fast composting requires more materials and effort in order to speed up the results.
How To Speed Up Composting
There are different ways of speeding up composting. Here are some of the most common tips you can follow to get quick compost.
- Start With The Basics
Firstly, the secret to quick composting is the size of the materials added. Make sure you take your time to shred the carbon-rich ingredients into fine bits.
These are paper, fallen leaves, straw, hay, and even cardboard. This allows for an even distribution of moisture and air between the layers of materials, speeding up the process.
If a shredder is not available, you can use a rotary lawn mower to shred the materials by running back and forth over the heap.
Alternatively, pruning shears can also be used on each material, but it takes more effort to chop everything in ½ inches.
Nitrogen-rich materials, such as vegetable and fruit scraps, plant pruning, and manure, can also be broken down into small pieces.
Soft and juicy materials do not require breaking down because they will decompose quickly once they are in the pile.
- Choose The Right Materials
There are plenty of options to choose from when you want to make your own compost.
However, similar to any other process, some materials are more digestible than others. For instance, leaves and wood have a high content of lignin, which makes them slower to compost.
On the other hand, shredded paper and grass clippings compost much quicker.
When you have everything ready, you can put a layer of dry branches first before adding the materials.
This helps to trap the air inside the compost heap, allowing aerobic composting to take place. Dry branches will also drain excess water.
If you want to speed up composting, you need to know that a larger pile is the quicker method. This should be at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. To be safe, you can make it 4 or 5 feet on each side.
You can either put all the materials in layers, or you can choose to mix them all together – the jury is still out debating which method is better.
However, do not forget to cover the heap with plastic or a carpet once you mix everything and add water for moisture if required.
- Add Some Soil or Old Compost
All the hard work in composting is done by fungus and bacteria. Only a teaspoon of soil has more than 100 million hungry bacteria and 400-800 feet of fungal threads.
Thus, adding a bit of old compost or soil ensures that there are enough bacteria and fungus to kickstart the composting process.
You can also find some more ideas on how to use coffee grounds to speed up the composting process in this video.
Quick results require more effort than the long-term composting method. One important aspect is to turn over the materials in the pile each week to allow the air to oxygenate them.
If you are unable to do so for any reason, you could poke around the pile with a pitchfork.
When you do so, also make sure you check the moisture level – it should be similar to a damp sponge, but without becoming soggy.
Check out this video to find out how to turn over your compost pile to speed up the composting process.
All in all, composting does not have to take 1 year or longer. There are many tricks to help you get started, and you might even get the compost in 2 weeks.
However, make sure you give it some more time to cure after this period. Follow our tips above and enjoy super quick composting!