Speed Composting

Unfortunately I have a small yard so my space to compost is limited so my goal is to make sure the most use out of the limited space I have. I am also impatient and don’t want to wait a couple years to finally get some compost. Here are some of my suggestions on how to be a speed composter.

Make stuff smaller: The small the you break up the material the faster it will decompose, instead of putting in those leaves freshly raked run over them with your lawn mower or take a few passes with your weed whacker. If you have kitchen waste chop or blend them to help the bacteria out.

Be selective about what you add: The basic idea if the material was alive at some point in its life it will decompose. That gives you a lot to choose from but if you want to speed compost you need to be a little selective about what you add. Lettuce, fruits, most vegetables (carrots take awhile unless you shred), leaves, grass clippings, shredded newspaper will decompose quickly. Items like small branches, vines though will compost over time I would recommend adding these to your yard waste bin.

Create a good environment: You want to create a healthy environment for microorganisms to be happy and reproduce. To thrive they need moisture and air so if you bin it should have the consistency of a wrung out sponge. If you find your bin is lacking moisture just add some while you mix it. This is definitely one of those situations where more is not better too much moisture and you will suffocate the microorganisms due to lack of oxygen. If you find your bin is too wet (usually will start to smell) simply mix (aerate) with an compost mixer or a pitch fork. If it is more of a muddy mess spread it out for a couple days and you should be back to having a microbial breading ground again.

Provide a good diet You want to provide your bin with a proper balance of nitrogen and carbon. The documented best ration is 30 to 1 (carbon to nitrogen) but I wouldn’t get too concerned about exact numbers just keep in mind a compost with just leaves or grass clippings will not be the most efficient way to get some compost into your garden. During certain parts of the season you will find that some nitrogen or carbon materials are harder to come by. For example in the fall you will have all kinds of leaves but your lawn and garden will be baron with greens, while being just the opposite in the summer where you will have a lot of nitrogen rich materials and no carbon. This is an opportunity to supplements your compost by adding nitrogen (alfalfa pellets, blood meal) during the fall/winter and adding carbon (newspaper, sawdust) during the spring/summer time.

Follow these tips and you should have great compost at record speeds.

3 Responses to “Speed Composting”

  1. Renata Says:

    My stepmom used to bury food scraps straight into the ground but now they have a dog that likes to dig it up. Her solution is to blend the food scraps. I would think that would allow one to compost items that would otherwise attract unwanted animals. Is that a store-bought bin you use? I have a very small yard and I’d like to compost, so a pile or even a pallet one is not going to work.

  2. jjtraveler70 Says:

    Breaking compost into small pieces is the best way to speed decomposition. A mower works great for some stuff, but I have found machetes to be the perfect tool for chopping up large kitchen and garden waste into small pieces for composting or mulching.

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