When your green thumb reaches its most vibrant, you may decide to make your own compost. And this is an excellent way to give your garden the nutrients it needs while saving some money.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to how long it takes to make compost. Some compost may only take a month to reach maturity while others can take up to two years.
Although, there is hope yet! Below are some tips and tricks to help you create rich, mature compost without having to wait years at a time. So, bust out the garden gloves, and let’s dive in!
How Long Does It Take To Make Compost?
Composting can be completed in a few weeks or up to two years. Results vary depending on the type of organic waste used, the composting process, and the weather.
The quickest results come from hot compost systems that are properly constructed and maintained.
Understanding The Phrases Of Composting
Before you begin collecting your composting items, it is important to understand the three phases they will go through:
The Mesophilic Phase
This is the first step your organic waste will go through. This is where it begins to break everything down.
The temperature of the compost is around 50°F at the beginning of the operation. The temperature then rises as a result of heat produced as the mesophilic composting crew breaks down the organic wastes.
After a few days, your waste will enter the Thermophilic Phase and will rise to a temperature of 115°F.
The Thermophilic Phase
This is where the real work begins. The composting teams (aka bacteria, insects, etc.) begin to work to break down all of your organic waste.
As they work to do their job, they composting pile can rise to an incredible 140°F.
The team runs out of materials to degrade after about two weeks of fast, fiery work, and their level of intensity decreases. When the compost enters the mesophilic phase, the temperature drops.
The thermophilic crew then turns the composting on to the mesophilic team to complete.
The Maturation Phase
This is the phase that takes the longest. With temperatures reducing to around 50°F, the compost continues breaking down at a much slower rather.
The Maturation Phase can last from around 2 months to 2 years before finishing and reaching full maturity.
If you have never made compost before, then you probably have no idea where to begin. We have some of the most common materials needed to begin making your own compost:
This is items such as prunings, hedge trimmings, woodchips, leaves, an even torn up paper or card are great brown items that are going to add layers to your compost.
These are great as a base layer and provide some much need airflow.
Greens are items such as soft, leafy plants, fruits and veggies, certain pet waste, and grass clippings. These are often smaller items that attract bacteria and insects to help move the composting process along.
Accelerators & Activators
Occasionally, products like “Garotta” are added in areas where there is a shortage of green garbage. They are rich in nitrogen, a nutrient present in green waste, but shouldn’t be required if there is an abundance of it.
This is not a necessity but many composters do add lime to their to their heap in order to get things moving. This is a personal choice and has no known impact on the speed of the compost maturing.
Tips For Quickening The Composting Process
As we now know, composting is a long process and often gets the best results when nature is left to do its thing. However, we have gathered a few tips and tricks to help quicken the process along:
Much like anything in nature, compost needs the right balance in order to work. Balancing your nitrogen-rich greens and carbon-dense browns.
The ratio of three parts brown to one part green is advised by several composting specialists.
However, getting this ratio quite right could be challenging, so simply make sure your compost has at least a fair distribution of browns and greens.
2. Check Your Moisture Levels
One element that can really slow down the composting process is moisture. Your compost should feel similar to a damp sponge. Not too wet but not too dry.
Most composters recommend having 40-60% moisture to get the best compost. You can also invest in a compost moisture meter to get an accurate reading.
3. Turn Your Compost
To ensure that the composting organisms have the air they require to thrive, turn your compost frequently. (Spin your tumbler about three times per week if you’re using one.)
Using a bin or a pile for composting? Once each week, turn your compost with a fork or spade. Add straw or shredded newspaper and flip it more regularly if it starts to get moist.)
4. Add Layers
Add a layer of sticks, cobs, and husks to the bottom of your compost pile. This can aid in airflow and drainage within the pile and provide you with a faster composting process.
5. Grind Your Compost
The majority of your organic waste should be ground or shredded before being added to your compost. To promote airflow through the compost, keep some larger items, such as fragments of egg boxes and corncobs.
Breaking down your compost into smaller pieces will also quicken the process in the Mesophilic Phase.
Composting can be a tricky process. It can feel like nothing is changing while underneath the surface, your compost is going through at least one of the three phases.
While there is no exact time frame for how long it takes to make compost, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process.
From taking moisture readings to finding the perfect balance, you can create your own compost in as little as a month.
Above are some tips and tricks to help your compost mature faster so that you can feed your plants the best of the best!