I HAVE A TUMBLING COMPOSTER, which comes in handy. It makes it easy to turn the materials so that the compost is properly aerated and working. But what I really like about the tumbler is that it keeps the tasty stuff away from the varmints that would otherwise scatter kitchen scrapes around my backyard. I’ve written all about the advantages and disadvantages of a tumbler in the article called Do Tumbling Compost Bins Work.
The advantages aside, I’ve found that a compost pile on the ground decomposes faster than in a tumbler. But this is only true if you maintain the pile at the optimum conditions. For example, you need to make sure it’s turned about once a week and kept at the proper moisture level. The Ohio State University Extension’s paper called Composting at Home is probably the best sources of information I’ve found on the optimum conditions for compost. It discusses all aspects of backyard composting.
Both methods have merits
Since both tumbler and pile methods have merits, I’ve decided to take advantage of both. I’ll start my compost in the tumbling bin and keep it there until the skunks, mice and other troublemakers are no longer interested. Then, when it’s decomposed enough, I’m going to move it to a pile on the ground.
1. Maintain a materials ratio of 60% brown (high carbon) to 40% green (high nitrogen)
2. Keep moisture levels in the pile “sponge wet”
3. Try to keep the volume at around three feet cubed (27 cu. ft.; 3-4 ft. tall)
4. Add a little finished compost to the pile to add microorganisms
5. Turn the pile once a week to maintain an air supply for the microorganisms
If you are doing all these things, I don’t think you need Compost Accelerators*, which claim to increase the “burn rate” by either adding nitrogen as a food source for the microbes or more microbes to the pile.
Helpful things I’m not doing
There are some other things I’m not doing that could potentially speed the process. I’m not going to add urine to my pile, which adds urea, a good source of nitrogen. Sorry, I just won’t do it.
Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio
|Saw Dust, Wood Paper||400:1|
|Source: OSU Extension|
I also won’t shred all my materials. Shredding increases the amount of surface area that the microorganisms can work on, resulting in a more efficient pile. Some of my materials will be shredded, but some will be whole. I know it takes longer for the non-shredded materials to decompose, but I would rather have the weather and the microbes do the work.
I’m betting that putting the material on the ground will speed things up enough. I’ll let you know what the results are. If you have a composting method that is really fast, let us know by commenting below.
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