Cold composting is a slow process that may take a year or two to reach perfection. But what do you do to get compost in a hurry? Keep reading and learn how to speed up composting.
How Long Does It Take for Compost to Turn to Soil?
The time it takes for compost to turn to soil depends on several factors. Generally, it can take between two weeks and two years for your compost to be ready.
That said, the composting rate depends on the following factors.
- The surface area of composted material
- Type of organic material in the compost bin
- Moisture level
- Level of ripening you require
- The frequency you turn the compost pile
- Size of the compost tumbler
Composting requires four things, organic matter, bacteria, moisture, and oxygen. The right amount of these components speeds up the decomposition process.
During winter, it may take longer to generate finished compost. The low temperature reduces bacterial action and slows decomposition.
What Will Make Compost Break Down Faster?
There are several things you can do to get fast compost.
Use the Right Compost Bin Size
Compost will break down faster in large tumblers than in tiny ones. Large bins generate more heat and also retain this heat.
Ideal temperatures, between 135 ˚F and 170 ˚F, create a favorable environment for microbes to act on your compost heap. If you have a smaller bin, you need to place it in the sun to break down the yard waste.
Turn Your Compost Pile Frequently
Too much heat inactivates bacteria that are involved in composting. Regularly turn your compost pile to prevent the buildup of heat on one side. Turning your compost heap also adds oxygen/air required for decomposition.
Maintain the Correct Combo
Your compost will break down faster if it has the right carbon-nitrogen (CN) ratio. The perfect balance is about 30 parts carbon for single part nitrogen by weight. Green materials like kitchen scraps are rich in nitrogen, while brown materials like corn stalks are rich in carbon.
Smaller compost pieces decompose faster than their larger counterparts. Small components distribute heat evenly and generate homogenous compost mixtures.
Keep It Moist
Efficient composting occurs when the moisture content is 40-60% by weight. Too little moisture can slow or stop decomposition, while excess water can displace air in your compost.
What Can I Add to My Compost Pile to Speed It Up?
You can speed up the decomposition of your compost pile by preparing hot compost. Hot composting is a process in which you increase microbial activity in your compost. Below are essential items you will need to add to your compost heap.
Add Old Compost or Soil
Bacteria and fungi spores are responsible for breaking down organic matter. You can kickstart and speed up the composting process by adding more microbes to your composting pile. But where do you get these microorganisms?
Microbes naturally exist in the soil. A handful of soil can contain millions of bacteria and fungi.
Another source of bacteria is your old compost. You can supercharge it with worm castings then add it to your compost.
Adding the correct quantity of fertilizer can speed up your compost. Fertilizer contains nitrogen, which is beneficial to brown compost piles.
Add Green Ingredients
Instead of fertilizer, you could use green ingredients to accelerate your compost. Greens will help boost the nitrogen levels in your compost.
Some of the greens you should add include:
- Kitchen scraps
- Grass clippings
- Coffee grounds
- Weed foliage
- Livestock manure
What Is a Compost Accelerator?
When learning how to speed up composting, you’ll often encounter the term accelerators.
Compost accelerators speed up the composting process. Gardeners sometimes refer to them as starters or activators.
Decomposition commences almost immediately you add a compost activator to your compost heap.
Excellent compost starters contain the following ingredients.
Plenty of Active Bacteria
Nearly all compost starters contain a high concentration of active bacteria. Vast amounts of bacteria will undoubtedly increase the decomposition rate in your compost bin.
Beware, the conditions of your compost must be perfect for these bacteria to thrive. For example, microbial inoculants won’t be effective if you expose your compost tumbler to wintry conditions.
Manufacturers infuse compost boosters with nitrogen-rich ingredients. These ingredients supply nitrogen to your compost and help bacteria to thrive.
If you make your compost accelerant at home, you need to add kitchen scraps and grass clippings.
Most boosters contain organic, eco-friendly ingredients. These formulas blend with your compost pile and provide energy for composting bacteria.
Be cautious when adding starters to your compost. Some have synthetic ingredients, which aren’t ideal for your compost. Always read the label to find the active ingredient in your accelerant.
Does Urine Speed Up Composting?
Urine will undoubtedly speed up the composting process by increasing nitrogen levels. The constituents of human urine include urea, water, ammonia, creatinine, inorganic salts, and trace minerals.
Since urine contains nitrogen components (ammonia and urea), you can use it as green material in your compost.
You might need to dilute the urine to reduce its high potency levels. In the end, it might perform a better job than grass clippings or kitchen scraps.
What Will Happen if You Left the Compost Too Long?
Composted material does not go bad if you store it well. Bacteria will continue decomposing compost provided moisture, organic matter, oxygen, and heat are present.
That said, valuable nutrients might leach to the soil if you leave compost for too long. If you expose the compost to the elements, it might rot.
How Often Should You Turn a Compost Pile?
It’s advisable to turn your compost pile after every two weeks. This period is long enough for the center of the compost to heat up and begin decomposing. Turning helps to evenly distribute moisture and heat to all sections of your compost pile.
Now You Know About How to Speed Up Composting
You can speed up your compost by embracing hot composting. Doing so entails creating an ideal environment for microbes to thrive. Use the above tips to jumpstart your compost pile.