Lawn & Garden Gardening

8 Tricks for Quick Composting Your Way to Free Fertilizer

It’s easy to get your garden growing and help it thrive with some quick-turn composting tricks any level composter can do at home.
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Make Compost Quickly

It generally takes anywhere from six to 12 months for compost to mature, however, you can have compost ready for your garden in about two weeks with a little extra work and know-how. Quick compost, which is sometimes referred to as rapid compost, matures much more quickly than traditional compost and is just as beneficial for your vegetable or flower garden. Follow these eight tricks for some quick, free garden fertilizer.

Size Matters

The size of your compost pile matters, especially if you’re looking for quick compost. A larger pile holds more heat than a smaller one, meaning it will break down matter faster, so go big! Aim for a pile of manageable size, ideally one that is 4 to 5 feet long and high.

Related: 11 Age-Old Gardening Tips to Ignore Completely

Keep it Moist

You need water to transform organic matter into compost, so be sure to keep your compost pile moist. “New compost usually needs much more water than compost that is partially rotted and making good progress,” according to Bonnie Plants. Having a compost pile near a water supply will make replenishing moisture easy.

Cover with a Tarp

While you want to keep your compost pile moist, you don’t want it to get too wet. Using a tarp can help speed up your composting since it not only keeps excessive water out during rainy weather, but can also help keep the internal temperature between 135-160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for making compost, according to Washington State University Extension.

Be Selective with Materials

Some materials decompose faster than others, so if making a quick compost is your goal, look for items rich in nitrogen, which can jumpstart your homegrown fertilizer. Nitrogen-rich materials include coffee grounds, grass cuttings and even beer, according to The Gardening Channel.

Related: 10 Gardening Mistakes That Are Killing Your Plants

Mix in Soil

Don’t rely on kitchen scraps alone for your quick compost. Adding soil is beneficial since soil is rich in microbial activity and can help break down your materials and speed up your compost. Adding soil can also help control insects. So how much soil do you need? Go for the 45-45-10 rule: 45 percent green material, 45 percent dry material and 10 percent soil, according to SFGate.

Turn Regularly

Compost needs oxygen to break down plant material and to bring materials from the edges of the pile to the center so they can break down. Turning your pile regularly, such as with a pitchfork or shovel, will help speed up the composting process, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

Related: 10 Fall Gardening Practices That Will Protect Your Soil in Winter

Consider Shredding

Larger pieces of compost materials, such as wood or leaves, don’t break down as quickly as smaller pieces. If you’re looking for quick compost, know that shredding exposes more surface area, making material more susceptible to bacterial invasion and allowing materials to break down faster than larger chunks. The University of Washington State Extension says the best sized particles for composting are less than 2 inches at the largest dimension.

Use a Thermometer

A compost thermometer will help tell you what’s happening (or not happening) in your compost pile. Since the best temperature for compost is between 135-165 degrees Fahrenheit, a thermometer will help you keep track of your pile’s temperature to help ensure ideal composting conditions.

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