Tips to speed up decomposition in your compost pile

Tips to speed up decomposition in your compost pile

Layering materials in a compost pile can speed up the decomposition process so you can enjoy your free fertilizer much sooner.

Tips to speed up decomposition in your compost pile

Build the base

Whether you choose to form a loose pile or add wooden slats or chicken wire to help contain your compost pile, it's important to build it on bare earth. Use a pitchfork to aerate and loosen soil or a sharp spade to slice through turf and loosen it. Allowing your compost pile to touch the ground connects it to beneficial microbes, worms and other insects that will speed the decomposition process. Once you've prepared the ground, add a base layer of straw or twigs. These help to aerate the pile, which keeps your decomposition process aerobic and quick.

Browns vs. greens

Your next task is to alternate brown and green layers. Brown layers are full of materials high in carbon. These items are typically dry, dead plant matter like autumn leaves, straw, twigs, wood chips, and sawdust. Some unexpected brown items that you can compost are newspaper, cardboard and dryer lint. It's best to shred large items like paper and cardboard so they break down faster.

Green items are materials higher in nitrogen, and they are typically the wet ingredients in your pile. Green ingredients include grass clippings, garden waste, manure and kitchen scraps. It's best to limit manure to that of plant-eating animals only, and kitchen scraps work best when they don't include meat or animal fats. Egg shells, coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps are all items that should end up in your compost bin.

Since your base is made of brown material, add a layer of green first, then cover completely with a layer of brown. Continue to alternate layers until your compost pile is about half as big as you want it to be, then add a layer of straw and soil before continuing your green and brown layers. This will ensure that microbes are spread throughout your pile to continue the decomposition process.

Easy maintenance

For the easiest layering, keep a pile of autumn leaves next to your compost pile year round. Each time you empty a bucket of kitchen scraps or add a green layer of grass clippings, cover them with a few handfuls of brown leaves. You'll keep up with your layering and reduce any potential odours in your pile caused by too much wet, green material. Keep up your layering with this easy trick, and you'll have gorgeous, black compost in no time at all.

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