Healthy and bountiful greenery is every gardener’s dream. To achieve the desired result, dedication, time, and effort are the main investments. It may take a long while to reach the peak of harvesting season yet it does not hurt to try growing methods that could help — like composting.
While it’s a great way to supplement a garden, composting is not done in a snap of your fingers. An organic matter takes time to decompose. Wastes are broken down completely for the soil nutrients to age well and become a sufficient booster for the thriving plants.
The long process of making compost requires more than patience. It also calls for better methods to speed up the procedure and serve its purpose. Trial and error could be an option, but never an assurance.
After piling a bunch of kitchen scraps and putting them down into the hole you made in your backyard, you may feel the fulfillment of finally being in the process of composting unscathed. But as soon you are about to celebrate your little victory, the smell from the compost area starts to stink. Months have passed and when you check your pit, it is now a well-decomposed ‘nothing’.
And you’re back to zero. So long to all the days you have waited and expected results. You are wondering what went wrong and starting to consider buying a commercialized fertilizer with who-knows how much toxicity just to spare yourself from all these hardships of trying to make a compost hastily.
Composting can be accomplished faster and quite easier if the steps are executed in a more systematic way, targeting the main culprits behind what’s slowing it down and what’s not. Here are some things you can do to help speed up the process.
How to Speed Up Compost
1. Select the compost method that works for you. To start off, you may check the size of your yard or garden and determine the maintenance plan you will able to manage in starting a compost pile. Consider the area’s full measurement, space barriers, potential hindrances, and commodity sources. Knowing the capacity and limits of your garden will help you figure out which to push through with or avoid.
Purchase wire-tap bins or build a large bin if your garden has a big space. If you have a relatively small area, then a compost tumbler is a perfect choice. Either way, you can also use the compost-pile method wherein you hurl the wastes into one stack and haul the compost from the base when it is necessary.
You also have to consider the temperature in your area as it can sometimes affect the process of composting. Furthermore, humidity and other climate factors may either hinder or help in speeding up the composting process. Observe the area and decide which methods will work best according to your temperature conditions.
By thinking about how your preferred compost procedures should go over, you will have a bigger and clearer view of your plan to help you decide accordingly. An organized system will speed up the whole process and successfully align your timeline.
2. Map out your waste collection system. Set a separate container for your kitchen scraps and other trash. Every time you prepare a meal like slicing and pealing the ingredients, it’s a good practice to start segregating potentially good organic matter in a canister.
Place your compost collecting bin where you can easily see and use it. Having a compost collecting bin with holes help filter the airflow and keep bugs, flies, and other pests away from the waste. It also prevents the fruit pieces and peels from fermenting. Though fermentation will not start in an instant, make sure you avoid this by emptying your bin regularly.
If you want to store other potential materials for composting, you may consider putting more bins aside and labeling them accordingly. As long as you have space, you always have the freedom to segregate all your waste if it will help you become more organized and systematic during the composting process.
Collecting frozen food scraps can also be an option to prevent attracting insects or developing unwanted chemical breakdowns. Such practice is commonly done by people who need to take their compost for transport or individuals living in the city.
3. Begin with two batches of compost. To start, you’re going to need two batches of compost. The first one is for the new pile of waste while the other is for mixing the finished compost. Having two batches is a technique that helps you work more systematically. Maneuvering the smaller batches helps you achieve faster results compared to having a huge pile of waste to address. Two-compartment tumblers or side by side piles makes your work lighter and more manageable.
Try to look for bins that can are suitable for the two types of such compostable. Monitor each bin as each may have different progress over time. While the first batch is starting to decompose, you may work with the second one and see why the decomposition is not taking place.
Doing the work one at a time will reduce your effort and preserve your energy to produce a quality outcome. Further, you can better focus on one thing at a time. You do not need to tire yourself to accomplish things at high-speed. Plus, rushing your composting process will only bear undesirable consequences.
4. Balance the greens and browns. Green wastes are those with a high ratio of nitrogen. On the other hand, brown ones are rich in carbon. Adding the two types of scraps will produce an unpleasant smell. Too much of the other can also cause similar undesirable results.
If the pile of waste you stacked is not decomposing, add more ‘green’ material to speed up the breakdown. However, avoid chunking in too many green scraps, or else the extra enzymes will attract flies and the compost will start to smell. Balance plays an important role in composting wastes.
The advisable ratio for the compost materials is only ⅓ greens to ⅔ browns. Check your pile from time to time and maintain the balance of both materials for better results. Some people think that mixing too much of both materials will speed up the composting, while in fact, it slows down the whole process or worst, nothing will turn out good from such an impulse.
5. Always remove the product stickers. The price or brand stickers in fruits and vegetables are made of plastic material. Plastics are a big no-no in a compost. They do not break down and will only add clutter to your pile.
If you think you forgot to check for plastics before putting the scraps in the compost pile, you may double-check it by using a stick and carefully scattering the waste.
Remove the product stickers and put them in a different garbage bag. The best way to avoid plastic is by choosing or buying only products free from brand stickers as much as possible. That way, it will be easier for you and will not take up much of your time.
6. Avoid composting bioplastics at home. Practicing additional precaution for plastic tags, biodegradable and compostable materials are also favorable in a compost. Biodegradable materials can break into smaller pieces and will not totally decompose. Putting plastics in either of the kinds will still not speed up the process.
Technically, biodegradable and compostable plastics are possible to decompose. Yet in order to tear their materials down, it will require industrial systems. If you consider such an option, your money and time will be put on stretch and it defeats the purpose of speeding up composting.
Although you may check out your area for the nearest compost facility that can help you with biodegradable plastics, it is still better to stick with organic materials that you use up daily in order to help save your time, money, and other resources.
7. Keep track of the excess fungus in your compost. Seeing a fungus grow in your compost pile is not alarming. Fungi are actually very beneficial, if not completely essential in the process. But too much of something is always bad. And the excess fungus could lead to negative results. You need to be aware of their presence and how much they take over the waste.
If the cellulose levels are higher in the compost pit, mushrooms and other fungi will grow around your stack. While mushrooms are not harmful to the compost, some types can be toxic. Manage the growth of fungi by aerating the pile and making sure that the nitrogen is proportional to the cellulose materials.
You should also monitor the moisture and temperature levels since these are factors why mushrooms and fungi thrive immensely in the pile. Getting rid of the excess fungi will contribute to your efforts of balancing both green and brown materials. The carbon or brown substance promotes airflow to cool down the compost and if combined with too much moisture and humidity, then fungi will become dominant.
8. Use your compost freely. When you successfully finish the composting process, it is just normal to use it when you need it for your garden. Doing so will provide more space for organic material to decompose and to be added to your pile. The faster you utilize the compost, the more batches you can make.
It is also not advisable to just stock the compost pile and let it store in bulk. Because it’s a decomposed soluble, it may attract more flies and other insects which may bring health risks to your home. You can reserve the compost for future use, but it is much better to utilize it as soon as you can.
When putting compost in your soil, apply it 2-3 inches deep while keeping a distance of 1 inch to avoid affecting the roots of the growing plants. Compost materials contain nutrients for the soil but putting them in an unorganized pile can hinder growth. But still, compared to commercial fertilizers, this is safer and naturally effective to use.
9. Use other wastes aside from kitchen scraps. Kitchen scraps are not the only types of waste you use to enrich your compost. You may also add scratch papers, old clothes, paper wrappers, and other things that would breakdown easily. Getting creative with your composting will enable you to explore which material is more suitable for your pile.
Wood, fabric, and bamboo products are other examples of compostable material you can use as alternatives when you run out of fruit and vegetable scraps. However, to successfully add these to your pile, you will have to make a hot compost pile. It is another process of composting where you let it moist in a separate bin for the microorganisms to breakdown the parts faster.
Look outside your home and maybe you’ll find far more things you can put in the compost pile. As long as the items are not made up of plastics, metals, and similar kinds of materials, you will not have a problem with adding them to the stack for decomposition.
10. Maintain a compost log. Make it a habit to take note of the changes, improvements, and problems you encountering during the composting process. Keeping track will make it easier for you to figure out the factors that are causing your compost pile to fail or why the decomposition is slower than expected. Also, this will help you be more organized since you can go back and recall important details later on.
Especially since composting is not the only concern involved in growing a garden, having a log will be significantly beneficial to your journey. Aside from that, the notes might answer your future questions as you go over the process again and again. Jot the details down on your notes and avoid repeating mistakes.
Along the way, you may also figure out more ideas and solutions in composting effectively. The process will be much faster and more productive each time.