When it comes to creating compost fast, 3 simple secrets can go a long way to success!
Summertime is the perfect time to create the ultimate, hard-working compost pile. The warm temperatures and increased humidity make it easy for piles to heat up and decompose rapidly.
And summer just also happens to be a time when finding materials to compost is easy. Whether it’s scraps and peels from the garden’s harvest, or plenty of trimmings from the yard, flowerbeds and landscape, there is an almost endless supply of materials that are perfect for a compost pile.
Let’s face it, every gardener can always use more compost. Not only does it contain nature’s perfect balance of nutrients, it can be used in a wide variety of ways all over the landscape.
First and foremost, it is perfect for turning lifeless dirt into super-charged soil. But it can also be used as a mulch to help hold moisture in and power plants in the process.
And if that wasn’t enough, compost can easily be turned into compost tea to create an instant fertilizer as well. With that in mind, here is a look at how to create a fast working pile this summer that can be ready to go to work for you by fall!
3 Simple Secrets To Create Compost – Fast!
There are 3 important keys to create a summer compost pile that will heat up and decompose quickly:
- Selecting the right mix (blend) of raw materials.
- Reducing the size of materials before adding to the pile.
- Supplying consistent moisture and oxygen to keep the pile active.
When all 3 of these conditions are met, great things happen to a compost pile. Not only will it heat up quickly, it will heat to a higher temperature.
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That means fast compost, and a better chance that weed seeds and pathogens are killed off in the process too. Here is an in-depth look at each of the three keys, and how to make sure you are building the perfect summer compost pile.
1) Selecting The Right Mix Of Materials – How To Create Compost Fast
A hot, fast-working compost pile all starts with having the right mixture of carbon and nitrogen based materials.
Carbon materials are dry materials such as old leaves, straw, wood, ash, wood chips and dry grass. These are the more inert or “brown” materials that make up a compost pile.
Nitrogen materials on the other hand are the hot or “green” materials of a pile. They are responsible for activating a pile and heating it up. Great sources of nitrogen are fresh vegetable scraps, green lawn clippings, coffee grounds and animal manures.
Getting The Right Ratio Of Materials
To create a pile that heats up and decomposes rapidly, you need to have the right ratio of materials. A “perfect” mix for a hot pile should fall somewhere close to the range of 4 parts carbon for every 1 part nitrogen.
When starting a fast pile, it is best to add and mix all of your materials at once. If you continue to add materials over time, like done in a traditional pile, it will take longer to continually decompose the new addition of ingredients.
Finally, make sure you are starting your compost with a helping hand. Use a few shovels of compost from an old pile, or a compost starter. This will introduce ready to go bacteria and organisms into the pile that will help it break down quickly.
#2) Break Up Materials Into Small Pieces – How To Create Compost Fast
Once you have the right mix of materials, it is time to build the pile. A compost pile needs to be large enough in size to generate good heat, but manageable enough for you to work.
The perfect size for a backyard compost pile is right around 3′ x 3′. It allows enough materials to work up heat, but also makes it easy to turn and keep well-maintained.
But even more importantly, for a faster working pile, you need materials to be as small as possible to speed decomposition. The smaller the better!
Always shred or chop all ingredients prior to adding to the pile. The more you shred the ingredients, the quicker they break down. In fact, if ingredients are broken down to 1/2″ pieces or less, finished compost can happen in as little as 30 to 60 days!
A great example are leaves. Whole leaves can take two years or more to completely break down in a traditional compost pile. When shredded and added to a hot pile however, they can break down in as little as 3 to 4 weeks.
Chop materials by hand, or use a lawn mower or push mower to take care of the task. An old push mower with a bagging attachment makes for an excellent shredder.
3) Supplying Consistent Moisture & Oxygen – How To Create Compost Fast
Once you have the right size and mix of materials, success all boils down to keeping the pile active with consistent moisture and oxygen.
In order to create heat, a compost pile needs both water and oxygen. Without both, a pie can sit stagnant. In fact, when most piles begin to smell foul, it is usually a result of a lack of these 2 critical components.
By turning a compost pile every day or two with a pitchfork or shovel, you provide oxygen to all parts of the pile. It allows the organisms that decompose your pile to remain alive and well.
And a pile needs water in much the same way it needs oxygen. Compost should be damp and moist to the touch. If it dries out completely, it stops generating heat, and the decomposition process stops as well.
Keep your pile moist, adding water before it dries out completely. Be careful though of adding too much water. If a pile becomes too wet, it can have an adverse effect and stop working.
A proper compost pile should feel like a damp sponge when you touch it. Anything less is not enough to keep the pile going strong. And anything more can stop the decaying process as well.
Here is to creating compost fast this summer – and to powering your soil and plants to new heights!
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