|How can l speed up the composting process?|
|The opinions shared here are based upon my own experiences working with compost and may not be shared by all.|
Main image my own.
|The composting cycle in easy terms is to take waste products from the garden or kitchen scraps and turn them into quality fertiliser that can be used to enrich soil and plant life.|
|Images my own|
|A question l often see in discussion groups, and l hear from other composters, is ‘How can l speed up the composting process?’|
As a hot composter, l work to achieve temperatures of between 150 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit when l am working with batches of compost for use in the garden.
I can take a heap of waste materials from the garden and the kitchen to a usable material for my requirements in as little as sixty days, which is still considered too long by others who still boast that they can make a workable material in as little as three weeks.
It is accurate; l have seen these ready-to-use garden mediums which follow the Berkeley Composting Method, which can produce a quantity in as little as 18 days.
My method does produce a mixture that l could use if l chose to in three weeks. However, l prefer to spend extra time making sure it suits me. So l tend to work a strategy that means l have material ready to fine sieve in sixty days. Not everyone fine-sieves their finished product, but l do. That is my personal preference.
The composting process can take anywhere between 18 days to fifteen months. It reflects the composter’s requirements, the method used, and the system utilised for the compost as much as it is to do with what is being composted in the first place. The prime ingredient in having compost for your use is ‘time’. More importantly – how much time and effort you put into creating the desired product.
There are many ways to ‘speed up the process – these days.
Since l first began to create compost for my requirements, l have learned a few tricks. l can use urine, coffee or old compost material as initial accelerators and turn the batch every three days. The turning alone will start to heat the compost.
But there are other methods a composter can adapt to suit their tastes.
When l create a new pile, l start from the ground up, as in flat to the ground; however, should you wish, you could start your compost pile on a bed of sticks, encouraging drainage and airflow.
Some find success with the use of a bottle of hot water placed in the first few inches of a new pile. This strategy was introduced to me in the Hot Bin composting method booklet.
Creating air space within the compost aids others with speeding up their heaps. This can be introduced quickly by inserting pipes into the compost pile in various positions to encourage more airflow. However, equally, you can achieve the same results by using a pallet system and turning the pile more frequently.
Adding to the heap rich greens such as coffee, grass clippings or horse or chicken manures ensures the introduction of nitrogen-rich composting materials. Too many carbons – browns – will slow the whole process down.
Make sure the waste products are not too bulky – smaller items compost faster. Cut down branches and sticks, smash up large fruit or vegetables, crush flowers and stalks, and add shredded materials like leaves or paper. Large items take longer to break down.
Aim to have a more significant compost heap – my heaps are a minimum of three feet high, deep and wide. These are suitable sizes. The bigger the pile, the more heat it will generate internally quickly compared to a smaller pile which can be affected by the outside environment more easily.
Summed up, a speedier compost process can be achieved with any of the following, if not all, when working together.
Urine, Coffee Grounds, Old Compost, Nutrient Rich Greens – Lawn Clippings
|7 Easy Ways to Increase Composting Speed|
|Frequent Turnings of the Heap – Once every three days|
Creating a base layer before the heap is built of sticks and twigs that encourages drainage and airflow
Placing a bottle filled with hot water a few inches below the surface at the top of your compost heap
Creating ‘airspaces’ in your heap via the introduction of pipes inserted into the top of the heap and pushed down into the heap itself
Adding nitrogen rich materials – coffee grounds, lawn clippings, horse or chicken manure
Cutting up green wastes or kitchen scraps into smaller pieces makes composting easier. Bulkier items take longer to break down
A compost pile of a decent size will heat up more quickly – minimum dimensions of 36″ x 36″ x36″ is an ideal size.