Experts contend that making compost is not an overnight affair. You need to be aware of the various factors that determine compost quality and longevity. The length may vary from a few months to up to three years, depending on the materials your compost.
Length of time of the making of compost is divided into two parts: longtime or short time depending on your needs
- Short term: In this case, compost is usually ready between 5 to 6 weeks. Often, you don’t need to be very keen and use a lot of labor to maintain this compost. Also, you need to use quickly decomposing material.
- Long term: This type of compost takes years, often requires minimal attention and involves a variety of wastes such as kitchen scraps and autumn leaves.
How long does compost take to mature?
There is no conclusive time frame set; however, several factors influence the rate of decomposition. Short term compost takes between 5 to six weeks while a long term one may take up to 3 years. However, several factors come into play in speeding up the degradation of your compost.
The variety of material you put on the Bin
A rule of thumb, mixing different compost materials takes a more extended period than using a specific waste. Experts attribute this discrepancy to the varied conditions and decomposition time of original materials.
Weeds, fruit peels, and grass are ideal for fast decomposition. It is advisable that you mix green (nitrogen) and brown (Carbon) components bring about even decay of your compost.
A ratio of carbon to nitrogen of 30:1 guarantees quick results. Old bales of straw or cardboard give additional brown material. Printed paper has the opposite effect due to the presence of bleach that hampers bacterial action.
The size of your compost pile
When deciding on the size of your compost pile, several factors come into play, such as available space and the amount of waste generated. It is always advisable to take a larger bin(four by four feet) since they are credited with being more heated than their smaller counterparts(minimum size is three by three feet).
Decomposing bacteria work best at high temperatures, especially during summer. The composting process is, therefore, faster when you use large bins as opposed to smaller containers. In case you have a smaller container, you can strategically place it in a sunny place to increase the internal temperature.
The surface area of your compost pile
A large surface area translates to even distribution of moisture in your compost; also, it facilitates easier mixing and acceleration of decay.
Moisture and aeration of your compost pile
Compost decay is carried out by micro-organisms that use air and moisture for their physiological and metabolic processes. Moisture and ventilation provide optimum conditions for the activity of decaying micro-organisms, thus decaying your compost faster.
Using shredded materials helps improve aeration by air space created between them when piled together. Constant application of water (not too much) when turning your compost improves decomposition by providing bacteria with nutrients.
How many times you turn your pile
You need to continually turn your compost to achieve complete decay. Failure to do this, results in partial decay and subsequent prolonged maturity of your compost, especially if there is no aeration at the center of the compost pile.
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Bacteria in your compost require air to actively breakdown your material. Conversely, frequent turning up of your pile mixes up fresh compost with decayed material and may slow down the process. Therefore, it’s advisable to first place the fresh compost in a separate bin before adding them to the existing compost.
Level of ripening you wish to achieve
If you need a complete decomposition, then you will have to wait longer.
Type of Compost bin
Plastics have slowly overtaken other materials as a compost bins. While its tendency to increase heat during hot temperatures is a plus on accelerating your compost decay, it has some demerits. The high temperature often results in drying of edges of your compost, especially those in contact with the plastic that leads in slow decay on these specific parts.
If you are worried about this, a wooden compost will come in handy, given their insulating property during decomposition.
How can I make compost faster?
You have some degree of control over the longevity of your compost. One way of doing this is by maintaining adequate conditions and actively taking part in compost maintenance. In addition to this, it is advisable to chop down, compost material to improve bacterial breakdown.
Selecting the contents of carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1and sustaining a temperature between 120 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (49 to 77 degrees Celsius) throughout the entire composting gives faster results. You can consistently turn (after every two weeks) when the temperature drops below 120 Fahrenheit to bring the material closer to the center.
Keep watering with every turn ensuring your compost is damp but not soaking. Too much water deprives your compost oxygen, making it difficult for the bacteria to break down your compost.
How do you know when the compost is ready?
You can determine the maturity of your compost using smell. Generally, an excellent earthy smell indicates complete decay. In addition to this, your compost should pass the eye test. Completely broken down compost looks like fresh dark soil and should be devoid of organic material.
After establishing complete decay of your compost, it’s advisable to use a mesh to sieve through your compost. In the event there other organic material incompletely decomposed, let them continue decaying and serve as a base for new compost.
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