In Brief: What Are Compost Starters/Accelerators – Best and Worst?
If you are looking to make the decomposition process of organic material faster, then a compost starter or accelerator could prove useful. If you have never heard of a compost starter/accelerator, it is simply a blend that gets the composting process going and then speeds up the process. But there is such a thing as a good and a bad compost starter and accelerator. Keep reading to find out more about this product and which are the best and worst.
For every gardener, compost is a very vital commodity – it is the gold that gets your plants to grow and thrive. Most gardeners prefer using compost on their crops, since it is organic.
Unfortunately, the composting process may take ages to complete, which creates the need for compost starters and accelerators. These products contain microorganisms that create the right environment to promote faster decomposition.
But not all compost starters and accelerators are made equal and some can cause more damage than good. But fear now – we will help you identify which are worth using and which you should stay away from.
What Are Compost Starters/Accelerators?
A compost starter/accelerator is a product that jumpstarts and speeds up the process of decomposition in your compost pile. It usually contains nitrogen, microorganisms, or herbs recommended for biodynamic decay.
Though not a prerequisite for the degradation process, these products save you time and effort to get the process going.
Compost accelerators contain microorganisms needed to quicken the process, such as fungi.They are affordable and easy to find.
Why You need Compost Starter/Accelerators
For the decomposition process to occur, your compost heap needs to have an environment that is ideal for microbes. These organisms are responsible for the whole decaying process.
If your compost pile contains a high quantity of dry matter (brown material) in your heap, like straws, your garden compost pile will take longer to decompose.
An ideal compost pile requires the right carbon to nitrogen ratio. However, in most cases, there is more carbon (brown material) than nitrogen (green material) in your compost pile.
Because of this, the degradation process takes ages to complete.
If you have a lazy garden compost pile, you should consider adding compost accelerators. The products not only activate and speed up the decomposition process, but they also add nutrients and minerals to your compost pile.
Popular compost starters/accelerators on the market include The Vitax Compost Maker (powder); J Arthur’s Garotta (powder); seaweed and seaweed extracts (liquids and powder); Bio-tal (liquid); Neudorff (powder); and sachets of enzymes, microbes, or herbs (e.g., QR).
Some naturally occurring accelerators include manure (from cows, chickens, horses, etc.); soft greens, like grass clippings and nettles; and urine from various sources.
Best Compost Starter/Accelerator
After analyzing several products, we realized the most efficient commercial compost activators had one thing in common. They are all rich in readily digestible nitrogen forms.
When you add these products to your lazy garden compost pile, you provide the right carbon to nitrogen ratio (30:1).
This addition boosts the bacterial activity needed for decay. Bone meal, blood, and fish are excellent sources of readily digestible nitrogen.
You have two options: you can make your own compost starter (which we will cover below) or you can purchase one. Here are the options we recommend:
- Ringer Compost Plus
- Roebic Laboratories Bacterial Compost Accelerator
- Jobe’s Organics Compost Starter
- Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter
- Compost-It Compost Accelerator
You can’t go wrong with any of these options as they are made to nourish your compost while accelerating the composting process.
How To Make Your Compost Starter/Accelerator
If you are a DIY enthusiast, there is a way you can make your compost starter/accelerator at home.
Your first option would be to take a few shovels of an already decomposed compost pile and add it to your new one. A mix that is close to completing the decay process will work effectively, too.
Adding these materials to your new pile introduces the organisms necessary for decomposition.
Alternatively, you may consider adding garden soil to your heap. This soil is rich with microbes that aid the decay process.
This option will work best with organic garden soil. If you often use pesticides in your garden, the pesticide is likely to have soaked the soil.
Worst Compost Starter/Accelerator
These days, the market is flush with these products. Most of them are not effective at best and dangerous at worst.
You should check the ingredients used to make the product before you make a purchase.
Avoid products that do not indicate the compounds or elements used. Always look for compost starters and accelerators that are organic and do not contain harmful products that you do not want to expose your plants to.
Fungi is a prerequisite for decomposition to occur in your compost pile. Given that yeast is a type of fungi, you will significantly benefit from adding it to your material. Adding yeast to your compost allows the decomposition process to proceed even when the cellulose in the organic material depletes.
Generally, a compost pile is a bulk of rotting materials. When you add manure to the mixture, you can expect various chemical residue, pathogens, and harmful parasites or bacteria in the mix.
After turning the pile, you should clean yourself thoroughly to avoid contracting infectious diseases. If you use a shovel to turn the garden compost for faster decay, clean it before putting it back in the shed.
Yes, you certainly can. Adding mushrooms to your compost pile is a great idea. You will enjoy the following benefits by adding mushrooms to your compost pile:
Minerals: Rich in phosphorus, potassium, and copper, mushrooms are a great source of minerals. Research has found that mushrooms contain more potassium than a glass of orange juice. When you add mushrooms to your pile, these minerals become part of it. You later add the decayed matter to your plants, feeding them with these vital minerals.
Fast decomposition: Like mold and yeast, mushrooms are fungi. Fungi play a crucial role in the decay process since they decompose most of the organic material. Mushrooms produce cells and filaments responsible for breaking down resilient organic material. Adding mushrooms to your pile, therefore, speeds up the decay process.
Heating compost pile: It is usually tricky to get your compost pile heated up properly. Spawn found in mushrooms activates their growth. The spawns are great activators. Their microbial activity decomposes organic material in your compost pile, causing it to heat up faster.
Mycelium: Mushrooms contain a vast network of mycelium. During the expansion of this network, enzymes that decompose into primary nutrients and sugars are released. These nutrients feed your plants and accelerate their growth. Even in conditions not favorable for decomposition, the mycelium in fungi can still get the job done.
Garden compost piles are a great source of minerals and nutrients necessary for plant growth. The process may take longer due to an unbalanced carbon to nitrogen ratio.
Compost starters/accelerators help remedy this by providing easily digestible nitrogen needed to boost the decay process.
It would be best to be cautious when purchasing a compost starter/accelerator, since the market is full of fake and harmful products. Alternatively, you can make your own compost starter/accelerator at home.