Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Cheat at Composting

Diligent composters will make sure their pile is balanced, turned frequently, and watered when needed. But if your pile is too slow and impatience gets the best of you, here is an “ace up the sleeve” trick that works to create a winning pile.
Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater
Sometimes called inoculants or starters, compost activators generally add a boost of nitrogen to heat up a pile and make finished compost faster. Some people swear by them, others think they are a waste of money. Either way you look at it, activators have proven results to speed up the composting. And they say cheaters never prosper…

You can buy prepackaged activators which usually contain blood meal, bone meal, or some other grim sounding meal, dried manure, enzymes, and bacteria. Avoid products with ammonium sulfate, I hear they are toxic to worms. ):

Fair and Square
There are plenty of “free” materials that will act as a compost booster without breaking the bank:

Old Beer
Coffee Grounds
Grass Clippings
• Comfrey (a plant)

You can also toss a shovel of healthy garden soil in your bin if you want a boost of microorganisms.

If you keep a balanced, moist pile you will not need to use an activator to create compost quickly. But in the end, there is no shame in using an activator- store bought or homemade- to give your pile a little umph.

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