7 Ways to Speed up Your Compost

7 Ways to Speed up Your Compost You want to harvest your compost as quick as you can. Here are 7 ways to speed up the decomposition process. Balance carbon and nitrogen Balancing your high-carbon materials with high-nitrogen materials will speed up your compost bin. High-carbon materials tend to be brown and dry, such as dried leaves, straw and wood chips. High-nitrogen materials are green, such as grass clippings, or they’re colorful, such as fruit and vegetable peels. One item that doesn’t follow that rule is manure from horses and cows. Manure is brown, but it is a high-nitrogen material. The most efficient composting occurs with a carbon-to-nitrogen mix of about 20:1. That means that you want about 20 times more dried leaves (by volume) than fruit peels. A chart from Cornell Waste Management Institute shows some carbon-to-nitrogen ratios for typical materials, based on dry weight. The ratios with a small first number are high-nitrogen materials and the ratios with a large first number are high-carbon materials. (Note that some of these materials have a range for their content.) Here are the carbon-to-nitrogen ratios for some typical materials: Poultry manure, from 3:1 to 15:1 Cow manure, 20:1 Horse manure, from 20:1 to 50:1 Food waste, about 15:1 Fresh grass clippings, 15:1 Sun-dried grass clippings, 20:1 Oak leaves, 40:1 to 80:1 Straw, 50:1 to 150:1 Sawdust, 200:1 to 750:1 Newsprint, 400:1 to 850:1 Corrugated cardboard, about 560:1 Maintain moisture The microbes in your compost bin need water, but not too much …

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Should You use Compost or Fertilizer?

  Should you use compost or fertilizer? If you use compost in your garden beds, you may not have to use chemical fertilizer at all. Adding synthetic fertilizer if it’s needed can be helpful, but when it’s not needed, it can be bad for your plants and for the environment. Don’t guess—test to see whether you need fertilizer. Problems with synthetic fertilizer Using too much fertilizer can actually damage your plants. Fertilizer burn disrupts water uptake by the roots and will show up as brown spots on the leaves. Too much fertilizer can also damage the environment. Fertilizer can be washed out of the soil by rain and get into nearby waterways, polluting the water. This stormwater pollution can make beaches unsafe for swimming, threaten the quality of drinking water, kill fish and other wildlife and make fish unsafe to eat. In addition, the production of nitrogen for synthetic fertilizers uses lots of natural gas, which can contribute to climate change. Why you should test If your soil lacks certain nutrients, using a fertilizer can help it. If your soil doesn’t need fertilizer, adding a fertilizer can make your garden worse. Soil test kits are inexpensive, fast and easy. You can test for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) with the Rapitest Soil Test Kit here. The Rapitest also tests for pH levels, telling you whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. The kit includes instructions on how to amend your soil, if needed. How compost can help Compost …

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