By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist. Turning Your Compost Heap - How To Aerate A Compost Pile, Managing Compost Odors: How To Keep An Odorless Compost Bin, Kitchen Composting: How To Compost Food Scraps From The Kitchen, Natural Christmas Decorations: Homemade Garden Christmas Crafts, Living Wall Kit Info – How To Grow A Living Wall Kit, Holiday Plant History – Why Do We Have Christmas Plants, Powdery Mildew On Lilac Bushes: Tips For Treating Powdery Mildew On Lilacs, Using Garden Shears – How And When To Use Shears In The Garden, Wabi-Sabi Garden Design: Implementing Wabi-Sabi In Gardens, Zone 7 Hedges: Tips On Growing Hedges In Zone 7 Landscapes, Growing Plants Indoors: Forcing Amaryllis Blooms In Winter, Phalaenopsis Orchid: A Surprising Addition To Holiday Décor, Gifting Holiday Plants: Secret To Keeping Live Poinsettia Plants Healthy, Handmade Ornaments – Holiday Ornaments Crafted From Nature. Another alternative to faster composting is to use composting worms. Much like the carbon-nitrogen ingredient ratio, the level of water in your compost heap also needs to be kept in balance in order for the process to run as smoothly as possible so your compost pile works efficiently and quickly. Nitrogen can be added to compost in small quantities to make nitrogen accessible to the carbon matter to break it down faster, but the Pennsylvania State University advises against using commercial high-nitrogen fertilizers for this purpose. Faster breakdown occurs when pieces are smaller and bacteria are encouraged with proper aeration and heat. Carbon is the "brown" dead stuff such as autumn leaves, straw, newspaper, and cornstalks; nitrogen is the fresh "green" stuff such as grass clippings, weeds, and other plants, and kitchen vegetable scraps. How to Compost Wood Chips Fast. eco-friendly being your delicate eco-friendly waste - kitchen vegetable trimmings, eco-friendly backyard trimmings. You can usually get them free from grocery stores or home improvement stores. Unlike a typical compost pile that you create and continue adding to as materials become available, a leaf pile can be made up all at once. If you’re adding something like dry leaves to the compost, you can use a leaf shredder or lawnmower to make the leaf bits smaller. However, it is a good idea to really chop or shred them up, as they take much longer to break down due to their fibrous and waxy make up. If managed well, hot compost can break down in a matter of weeks (usually months), whereas with cold composting full decomposition can take years. Choose the nitrogen type of compost starter if your own compost consists mostly of carbon-heavy elements, like paper or dried leaves. In a traditional compost pile, they take a long time to break down. Each pile is started individually, keeping newly added items from essentially starting the pile over again. It takes a fair amount of effort but the results will be worthwhile. Materials to Avoid. To turn compost, empty out the bin and refill it, turning the sides towards the middle so it composts evenly. Aerobic composting is faster than anaerobic composting, reduces odour and is better for the environment. At this stage, temperatures begin to drop enough for mesophilic microorganisms to resume control of the compost pile and finish breaking down the remaining organic matter into usable humus. It should also be well aerated, with plenty of the oxygen that aerobic bacteria need. What with spent crops from the veg plot and waste generated from preserving the harvest, there’s plenty to add to it. The temperature of compost can get up to 140°F. The process will just happen more quickly if you take the time to aerate your compost every couple of weeks. Compostable packaging breaks down in a home compost pile or a commercial composting facility. Just take a few minutes to sprinkle the water over the surface of your compost heap using the hose.You can automate this process if you’d like by setting your sprinklers near enough to your compost bin that the water reaches the materials inside. Solution: Bring air into the pile by turning it over regularly or use a pitch fork to “fluff it up” every few weeks. Then throw them back into the next heap. If you don't have a chipper or shredder you can chop your materials into ½" to 1½" pieces with pruning shears. Carbon-rich materials include corn stalks, straw, dry leaves, sawdust, and shredded paper. If your compost bin has no bottom and is light enough for you to lift, you can simply lift it and place it next to the compost pile, then replace the materials inside, to aerate and mix the ingredients. If you are lucky, your topsoil may also contain some worms, which can help to break down a compost pile even faster. Add all material at once then turn it at least once a week or once per day if it is handy. The YouTube channel Grow Veg has a very clear video on the Perfect Compost Recipe. Brown materials that compost quickly include dried leaves, pine needles and small woody branches. Frequent turning speeds up composting by keeping the moisture evenly distributed, providing aeration, and helping all the leaves break down at an equal speed. in diameter. Processing – Feed all materials through a mulcher first, the finer the compost materials are, the faster they break down. These ‘good’ leaves will … That's why it's important to know what you should and shouldn't put into your compost … However, since wood chips have such a high carbon to nitrogen ratio – anywhere from 200:1 to 1,300:1 – you have to know the right way to compost them. Although you can certainly use these if you would like, it’s usually not necessary to go out and purchase a specialized tool for mixing your compost. Otherwise, just chop materials quite fine with a garden spade on the ground (not in the soil, it will compact it! Unless you’re certain they’re made from 100% natural fibers like cotton or hemp, avoid them. When I do something, I always do it big haha. It will certainly get the job done, but there’s a plan that’s easy and a whole lot cheaper that you can do yourself. (Make sure to open the lid of your composting container before each sprinkler session, or the session will be pointless.). Choose the microbe type of compost accelerator if you’ve already included plenty of nitrogen in your own compost heap, as going overboard with nitrogen can actually slow down the decomposition of your compost. Animal waste. You can boost a compost pile with Super Hot, an organic activator make of nitrogen and hungry micro-organisms. As an alternative, if the process seems to be dragging and you don’t want to use a compost starter, you can always give things a little push by adding some water to your compost, along with an infusion of nitrogen-heavy “green” ingredients. Aerate. If things are still too damp, you can take them out of the container and spread them out for even more drying from the sun. The piles will provide habitat for wildlife in the beginning and will break down into compost over time. But scientists now believe they can turn human urine into liquid gold—as composting material. So, to get your compost to break down faster, you can shred your materials into smaller bits. Tumbling compost bins, good or bad? How To Make Homemade Compost Catalyst. Don’t wait for them to finish. Many people get compost tumblers because they promise to help you get finished compost more quickly. Another option is to use a “Compost Starter” amendment, or alfalfa meal or pellets mixed into your compost pile which will make it heat up and break down faster. In order to encourage your compost to break down quicker, you need to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 20:1, according to Gardeners.com.Adding nitrogen-rich items to your compost will do two things — it will help keep the compost from getting too moist and it will fasten the rate at which it breaks down. There are several ways that you can use leaves to enrich, protect, and enhance your garden. Also, add in some more carbon-heavy ingredients that are dry enough to soak up some of the excess moisture, like dried leaves or, if leaves aren’t available, some shredded paper or cardboard. Shred as much yard debris as possible and keep kitchen scraps no larger than an inch (2.5 cm.) As long as the sources of carbon and nitrogen you throw into the pile are approximately even in weight over about a  week-long period, your compost should stay running on all cylinders. There are specialized tools on the market that you can use, such as handheld compost turners or tumbling compost containers that will do the work of turning for you. Which is when the anxiety starts. The goal of composting wood chips is the same as the goal of composting other materials: to break down the materials into nutrient-rich plant food. Water the layers of ingredients as you construct the pile and keep it moist (but not too) between turnings. By providing the appropriate amount of moisture, you’re cultivating the health of the microbes that do the work of breaking everything down. Providing shredded sticks and other debris that creates air spaces in your pile will speed the process along. What will make compost break down faster? Most gardeners will already have something in the shed that they can use to turn their compost, such as a pitchfork or shovel. There are strict criteria used to certify packaging as compostable in the UK. Compost is humanity’s version of the humus found in nature, and the compost heap is a ‘digester’ – our tool used to produce it. Acid preserves things when we want it to rot and break down. This is where the compost is turned frequently and added all at once per unit. Hydrated white lime will help to break down any compost at any stage. ), or using secateurs or hedge clippers to chop everything up first while the materials are sitting in a large container. (60 C.) due to these heat-loving microorganisms. Faster composting for all your lawn and garden uses. You don’t even need to make sure the weight of your ingredient types is equivalent each time you add things to your compost. Paper and cardboard can also be added but will take a few months to fully decompose. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends burying fruit and vegetable scraps beneath 10 inches of compost for better results. Getting air into the heap literally breathes life into it during the winter, boosting populations of organisms so the compost heats up and therefore breaks down more quickly. Good leaves for composting: The best leaves for composting are those lower in lignin and higher is calcium and nitrogen. Bacteria and fungi are the microbes responsible for breaking down organic matter into compost. After loosening surface of the soil, pile on 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) of compost and use your shovel to spread it around until it’s distributed evenly. The consistency you should be shooting for is when your compost materials have the moisture level of a sponge that has been wrung out. Aerating it every couple of days will create compost faster than aerating it weekly. Should this happen, just leave the lid off your composting container so the sun can dry things out a bit. How To Compost: Everything You Need To Know To Start Composting, And Nothing You Don't. (See References 1) … Compost tends to be acidic. If it rots, it can compost, although some materials require special handling, which we'll cover later in the post. Like This Article . The thermophilic microbes work to break down the organic materials into finer pieces. The Job of Compost Bacteria. And how do you know when compost is ready? Add a few sticks so there will be air circulation. There is one main ingredient that should be added to compost to help break it down. Excess water drains away but compost will not rot down unless it is all t wet through. Nitrogen can be added to compost in small quantities to make nitrogen accessible to the carbon matter to break it down faster, but the Pennsylvania State University advises against using commercial high-nitrogen fertilizers for this purpose. Leaf compost, better known as leaf mold, supplies a soil amendment that improves soil texture, helps retain moisture, and provides a welcome environment for worms and beneficial soil microbes. Some avid gardeners even recommend putting kitchen scraps through the blender, which gives you the added benefit of moisture when adding the scraps to your compost pile. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. How quickly compost breaks down depends on four things – moisture, oxygen content, temperature, and a good mix of ingredients. Brown being, present soil, peat moss or perhaps newsprint. Then add another 6 inches of material, then more sticks. m.). It is possible to turn your compost too frequently, which will have the opposite of the desired effect and slow the process down, so don’t start stirring the compost daily or even every couple of days. That's why it's important to know what you should and shouldn't put into your compost … After the compost is done, use it to amend garden soil or to mulch around growing plants. As for the rhododendron and holly leaves, you can definitely put them in your compost pile. A compost pile requires the proper carbon and nitrogen ratio for quickest composting. These 4 tips will help you speed up the process. The temperature of compost can get up to 140°F. The premise is simple: Pee is rich in nitrogen, which plants desperately need. Add all material at once then turn it at least once a week or once per day if it is handy. The higher temperatures are more conducive to breaking down proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates. As a member of my local composting group (something at which my friends have finally stopped rolling their eyes!) To hydrate your compost, the simplest way is to use the garden hose, if it can stretch to wherever your pile is set up. In dry summers or other … When you stir and turn your compost on a regular basis, you’re making sure the microbes that break everything down get plenty of oxygen so they’re able to breathe, and therefore survive. Use a screen to separate compost that’s crumbly and ready for the garden from these other materials. You can start by propping open the lid of your composting container on a warm, sunny day so the sun’s rays can help dry the ingredients out. If you are new to composting, the fastest method is the 3-bin system. Here's why: Many of the bacteria that break down your compost need air to survive. Many municipalities have a composting program, but some of us choose to make our own bins or piles and harvest the resulting nutrient rich gold for our gardens. We’re going to show you how to compost leaves fast.. I don’t do ‘fast compost’ so I’ll direct you to those who do. Compost added to heavy soil improves drainage, while compost added to sandy soil helps retain moisture and nutrients. It really depends on how quickly you are trying to create usable compost. You can also use a compost tumbler to the same effect. QUESTION: What will make compost break down faster? A week or two after the pile is made these bacteria will start to die off as they start to use up the available air in the pile. You can also use a compost tumbler to the same effect. – Rita M. ANSWER: There are several things you can do to speed nature’s work decomposing your compost along so that you can put the nutrient-rich final product  to use in your garden more quickly. “When you maintain a good balance of carbon (the wood chips) and nitrogen (coffee grounds and lawn clippings) the pile heats up, hence breaks down the wood chips into compost faster.” comments rubbish professional Luke Hancock. The correct ratio is 30:1. first of all do no longer upload sawdust!! Humus is made of broken down vegetation which releases nutrients back into the soil for healthy plant growth. Soft succulent materials do not need to be shredded because they break down very quickly in the compost pile. In short, if your compost pile is not heating up it’s likely due to one of four things: not enough nitrogen; too wet or too dry; too small ; not enough of the right bacteria . Composting has become an important part of good stewardship and conservation. This allows one pile to break down before you add more organic material. Your compost will still break down to produce the nutrient-rich “black gold of the garden” you’re looking for, even if you don’t turn it. Sign up for our newsletter. Speaking of size, in a compost pile situation, the material will decompose much faster in a large pile at least 3 square feet (approximately .3 sq. Once decomposed, this rich, organic dirt is used in the garden to … You should also mix in a batch of some dry, carbon-heavy “brown” materials, like dried leaves. This is where the compost is turned frequently and added all at once per unit. Just push it down into the contents of the compost bin and pull it back out. Your email address will not be published. Adding fresh oxygen into your compost pile by turning it more frequently will help your compost break down faster. Even better, it's a free resource if you have deciduous trees that drop a lot of fall leaves. Fungi and bacteria use it to break wood down to it’s composite ingredients. Required fields are marked *. On the other side of the coin, if your compost has more dampness than a wrung-out sponge, you’ll need to dry things out a bit. Simply leaving a pile of yard debris and kitchen scraps will result in compost in time. methods. Of course you could go out and buy yourself a compost tumbler for $100-$200 or more. Of the two, bacteria work faster. Turn the leaf pile every two to three weeks with a garden fork, moving the leaves in the interior of the pile to the outside of the pile. Mixing up the material and aerating it keeps it moist, … How soon can I plant after adding compost? The good news is that you don’t have to wait that long – in fact one composting system produces finished compost in just 14-21 days (although you’d ideally let it mature for a while before using it for the first time).. Bitter Fruits. And to do that, it all starts with shredding! Photograph by Hannele Lahti, National Geographic . Too much nitrogen rich material and not enough carbon rich material tends to make things turn into small balls that look sort of like horse turds. Wood is high in a protein called lignin that’s resistant to bacteria. Hot composting turns waste into compost quickly because the microbes that break down compost are given the ideal conditions in which to work. If you’re too heavy handed when adding water and get the compost too wet, you may notice the materials becoming a little slimy or smelly. because it breaks down it makes use of nitrogen. I worry that if you move your compost into direct sun and heat, it may dry up quickly which will halt the breakdown process. Nothing slows down the creation of compost than a dry pile. It won’t be a pure liquid of course, but it should pour from the container, not have to be spooned out. When should you add compost to your garden? Some gardeners get really precise with their management of the proper balance, weighing everything they add to their compost and calculating the ratio using complex mathematical equations [http://compost.css.cornell.edu/calc/cn_ratio.html]. Aerator probes are very easy to use. 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