How to Speed up Composting: 21 Methods

How to Speed up Composting 21 Methods


Composting, an environmentally friendly method of recycling organic waste, is a vital practice for both the avid gardener and the conscientious global citizen. It involves the transformation of organic materials like fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and brown materials such as wood chips and shredded brown cardboard, into a nutrient-rich soil amendment known as compost.

The importance of composting cannot be overstated. It reduces the amount of organic waste ending up in landfills, contributes to carbon sequestration, and enhances the fertility and structure of garden soil. By using compost, we support a more sustainable and circular economy, returning organic matter back to the earth from which it came.

However, a challenge that many face in the composting process is the time it takes for materials to fully decompose. A traditional compost pile can take anywhere from several months to a year or more to produce finished compost. In our fast-paced world, waiting for a compost heap to mature might not fit into everyone’s schedule or meet immediate gardening needs. Hence, the question arises: “how to speed up composting?”

In this article, we’ll discuss ways to increase decomposition process rates, optimize your nitrogen ratio, manage excess moisture, and produce finished compost faster for your garden soil. Let’s dive in to speed up the composting process and get you closer to successful composting with these fast composting tips.

How to Speed up Composting: The very short version

Start with a Layer of Sticks and Twigs Start your compost with a twig base to boost air circulation, aiding faster decomposition. A well-aerated pile is eco-friendly and reduces odour. This simple strategy can significantly speed up composting.

Add Biochar to Your Compost Biochar can boost composting speed by 20% even at 3% composition.

Add Coffee Grounds Coffee grounds speed up composting by offering compost microbes a ready source of nitrogen.

Add Easily Digestible Materials Adding easily digestible materials like grass clippings and shredded paper to your compost pile accelerates decomposition, while materials like wood and leaves slow it down.

Add Old Compost or Soil Adding fresh compost, soil, or animal droppings to a new compost pile infuses it with microbes that kickstart decomposition, speeding up the composting process.

Add Nitrogen-Rich Materials Balancing your compost pile’s carbon-to-nitrogen ratio by adding more nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ like grass clippings or manure can stimulate microbial activity, accelerating composting.

Ensure There is Enough Carbon Balance the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio for faster results. ‘Brown’ materials, like leaves, twigs, sawdust, and paper, provide essential carbon and energy, help aeration and speed up composting.

Use a Compost Activator / Compost Accelerator Compost activators, rich in nitrogen and bacteria, can boost decomposition in your compost pile. Opt for organic activators like chicken manure or nettles for an eco-friendly boost.

Create Free Air Space Free Air Space (FAS) enhances composting by creating air pockets for better oxygen flow, key for microbial breakdown of waste. Use semi-decomposed wood chips to generate FAS.

Not Too Wet, Not Too Dry Maintaining correct moisture is key to speeding up composting. Overly wet or dry conditions slow decomposition. Ideal compost feels like a wrung-out sponge; adjust with water or dry materials.

Increase the Volume of Your Pile A larger compost pile generates more heat, speeding up decomposition. A pile about 36″x36″x36″ is ideal, maintaining heat and moisture effectively for efficient composting.

Make the Compost More Acidic (Lower the pH) Optimize composting by controlling pH. Slightly acidic to neutral environments (pH 5.5-7) boost microbial activity. Introducing fruit waste or oak leaves can help achieve this balance for speedier composting.

Shred all the materials Shredding compost materials accelerates decomposition by increasing bacteria’s access area. Tools like garden shears, lawn mowers, or compost shredders can help. Ideal size ranges from 0.5 to 1.5 inches.

Ensure Proper Aeration Turning your compost introduces oxygen, vital for microbial decomposition. Tools like compost forks or tumblers can help. Regular turning prevents oxygen deprivation, accelerating composting.

Insulate Your Compost Pile Maintaining warmth in your compost pile boosts decomposition. Insulate with materials like straw, hay, compost duvets, old carpets or bubble wrap. In cold climates, bury compost bins into the ground.

Use the Berkely Method The Berkeley method yields compost in 2-3 weeks using small materials, equal parts green and brown, turned every 1-2 days. Though demanding, it’s highly efficient for large volumes of compostable material.

Use a Compost Thermometer A compost thermometer helps monitor pile temperature, vital for efficient decomposition. Regular readings inform necessary adjustments, making it an essential tool for maintaining compost pile health.

Use a Compost Tumbler Compost tumblers provide an accessible solution for smaller compost batches. Their design promotes optimal ventilation, and the easy turning mechanism accelerates the composting process. It’s a functional and simple choice.

Kickstart with a Hot Water Bottle Using a hot water bottle can jumpstart composting. Fill a bottle with hot water and nestle it into your compost pile. This heat can boost the compost temperature, accelerating decomposition.

Utilise Technology Smart composting devices can monitor key factors like oxygen, temperature, and moisture levels.

Add Worms Worms are valuable allies in composting, enhancing decomposition and producing nutrient-rich compost. Introduce compost worms like Red Wrigglers to boost the breakdown of organic waste and improve the quality of your compost.

The Composting Process: A Quick Overview

Composting is a natural process of decomposing organic material into a substance often termed as ‘black gold’. This process is conducted by composting microbes present in the compost materials, transforming the organic waste into nutrient-rich finished compost. It takes your kitchen scraps, yard waste, grass clippings, and brown material, such as wood chips and brown cardboard. It decomposes these organic materials into a beneficial soil amendment that is fantastic for improving the health and vitality of your plants.

Composting involves three main components: green materials, which provide nitrogen; brown materials, which offer carbon; and water, providing moisture to help break down the organic matter. The green materials include nitrogen-rich materials such as vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds, while brown materials consist of items like wood chips, brown paper bags, and leaves.

The composting process begins when these components are mixed in a compost pile or compost bin. Heat is produced as a byproduct of the decomposition process carried out by compost microbes, and this heat is what turns a compost heap into a hot compost heap, a sign of successful composting.

How to Speed up Composting

Start with a Layer of Sticks and Twigs

The structure of your compost pile plays an instrumental role in the efficiency and speed of the composting process. One technique that can prove beneficial involves starting your compost heap with a foundational layer of twigs or sticks. This layer serves as the groundwork of your compost bin, facilitating beneficial air circulation within the pile and aiding in excess moisture management.

Aerobic composting 719

Why is air circulation vital? Composting is an aerobic process – it thrives in the presence of air. When your compost pile is adequately aerated, it enables faster decomposition, reduces odour, and is more eco-friendly. But when compost materials are densely packed, oxygen finds it hard to permeate the heap, thus slowing down decomposition.

By forming a base layer with branches or woody materials, you provide the necessary nooks and crannies for air to circulate, even in the bottommost part of a large compost heap where it usually can’t reach. This fosters an environment for aerobic, or ‘with air’, composting to occur optimally. This structural layout not only fast-tracks the decomposition process but also ensures any excess water drains away efficiently, preventing overly damp conditions that could hinder your compost production.

Starting your compost heap with a layer of sticks and twigs acts as a support system that keeps your compost pile breathing and decomposing at an efficient pace. This simple yet strategic step could significantly speed up the composting process and make your composting journey more rewarding.

Add Biochar to Your Compost

Biochar, essentially charcoal, has a unique property that can potentially speed up your compost production.

According to research by L M.Sánchez-García, introducing biochar into your compost materials could offer substantial acceleration. A compost pile containing as little as 3% biochar has been observed to increase the composting speed by a remarkable 20%.

However, it’s crucial to approach the use of biochar with an informed perspective. There’s been controversy surrounding its application as a soil amendment, with some raising questions about its long-term impact on soil health and the environment. As such, careful sourcing of biochar becomes essential for eco-conscious gardeners. The Royal Horticultural Society advises that you choose FSC-certified Biochar derived from European hardwoods to ensure sustainability and quality. This way, you can utilize biochar’s benefits for composting while maintaining an environmentally responsible approach.

Add Coffee Grounds

Introducing coffee grounds into your compost pile can be a game-changer in accelerating the composting process. By sprinkling thin layers of these used coffee grounds throughout your compost heap, you’re presenting the compost microbes with a rich and readily available source of nitrogen.

This nutrient plays a crucial role in supporting higher levels of microbial activity, leading to faster decomposition.

But where can one source these nitrogen-rich coffee grounds? Many local coffee shops, recognizing the environmental benefits of recycling their waste, are more than happy to save their used coffee grounds for customers interested in composting. Some establishments, like Starbucks, even offer their grounds for free to eco-minded individuals. A friendly tip for their time can establish a pleasant rapport, assuring you of a constant source of valuable compost amendments.

Add Easily Digestible Materials

Your compost pile’s composition is crucial in determining how quickly it decomposes.

Different materials have different composting speeds, primarily due to their chemical makeup and how easily microbes can break them down. Hence, focusing on adding easily digestible materials to your compost heap can help speed up the composting process significantly.

Materials like wood and leaves, although organic, contain high amounts of lignin, a substance that is resistant to quick decomposition. This resistance is especially notable when these materials are large in size. Consequently, these materials may slow down the overall composting process.

On the other hand, organic wastes such as grass clippings and shredded paper are comparatively quick to compost. These materials are easier for the microbes in your compost heap to break down, making them ideal choices for a fast-composting pile.

Add Old Compost or Soil

The key to speeding up the composting process lies not only in what you add but also in understanding who does the hard work. It’s the bacteria and fungi in your compost pile that serve as the primary decomposition agents. They are essential in breaking down organic matter and transforming it into nutrient-rich compost.

If you have access to finished fresh compost, adding some to a new compost pile can be a simple and effective way to introduce the necessary microorganisms to the pile.

A single teaspoon of soil can be home to 100 million bacteria and between 400 to 800 feet of fungal threads. To capitalize on this natural resource, consider adding a bit of old compost or some soil to your compost pile. This action infuses the compost pile with the necessary beneficial microbes needed to kickstart the composting process.

If you have quality garden soil teeming with beneficial microorganisms, adding a scoop of it into your compost heap can also work wonders. If you keep animals like chickens or rabbits, their droppings can also be added, providing a valuable source of organic matter and beneficial microbes.

Starting your compost pile with a layer of well-established, healthy garden soil can set the stage for an effective decomposition process. As you build your compost pile, consider adding layers of this soil to introduce a vibrant microbial community to your pile. This simple step can give the composting process the initial boost it needs and ensure that your composting efforts are as efficient as possible.

Add Nitrogen-Rich Materials

If your compost pile is sluggish, you might want to reassess your carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. For optimal composting activity, the microorganisms in your compost pile require a balanced diet of both these elements. However, a surplus of carbon can decelerate the process. To rectify this, consider adding more ‘greens’ – items abundant in nitrogen, such as grass clippings or manure.

High Nitrogen material stimulates microbial activity and heats up your compost pile, creating a conducive environment for decomposition. An influx of fresh green waste matter can quickly kick-start the composting process, as microbes revel in the feast of readily available nutrients. However, too much of these fast-burning materials can create an imbalance in your pile, leading to a smell and potentially anaerobic conditions that slow the process. Striking the right balance is essential – maintaining regular aeration by turning the materials can counteract the smell and help manage an abundance of greens.

Further nitrogen-rich materials you can incorporate include food scraps, fresh grass clippings, and even horse manure. Each of these provides the necessary nitrogen to fuel bacterial growth and activity. You may be surprised to learn that even our urine can serve as an excellent source of nitrogen! The key is to distribute these nitrogen-rich materials in thin layers throughout the pile to encourage quick decomposition.

The desired carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is generally 25 to 30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen, and you do not want too much nitrogen.

Ensure There is Enough Carbon

The engine of a successful composting process lies in the balance between the carbon and nitrogen components within your compost pile, referred to as the Carbon:Nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Striking the right balance between these elements can significantly expedite composting.

Carbon, often referred to as ‘brown material,’ plays an integral role in this biological alchemy. While not always physically brown, these brown materials are characteristically dry and woody, lacking high moisture content. Some prime examples include leaf clippings, twigs, sawdust, and paper. Notably, these materials add more than just carbon to the pile. They also contribute valuable bulk to your compost, which in turn facilitates better aeration throughout the pile.

So, don’t be misled by the ‘brown’ nomenclature. The colour is a metaphor for carbon-rich materials’ typically dry, woody nature. They are a crucial element in composting, ensuring your composting operation functions effectively and more swiftly. Enriching your pile with ample carbon is not merely a recommendation but a necessity for healthy, vibrant, and quickly-produced compost.

Use a Compost Activator / Compost Accelerator

There’s a variety of compost activators available in the market, each promising to expedite the decomposition process. These activators, also known as compost accelerators or compost starters, essentially act as a source of nitrogen and ‘worker microbes’ that are critical for composting. Essentially, they amplify the microbial activity that breaks down organic matter. Instead of waiting for the naturally occurring microbes to multiply, these activators provide a ready population to jump-start the process.

In selecting a compost activator, it’s important to look for certain key components. First, active bacteria: these are the worker bees of your compost pile, the primary agents of decomposition. Next, nitrogen-boosting elements provide the much-needed diet for your composting bacteria. And finally, organic materials are preferable over chemical or synthetic ingredients. The latter may be less crucial in terms of speed, but they do subtract from the organic richness of your compost.

There are also organic alternatives available that can accelerate the composting process. Materials like chicken manure, nettles, grass, and even urine, all high in nitrogen, can give your compost heap a much-needed boost. While not everyone might have access to chicken manure, the alternatives are quite easy to come by. Experimenting with these different inputs can also offer insights into what works best for your compost heap.

Create Free Air Space

The concept of Free Air Space (FAS) in composting may not be widely discussed in older composting guides, yet it has garnered considerable attention among professionals and compost researchers. Incorporating FAS into your composting system can significantly enhance its effectiveness.

The principle behind FAS is straightforward: introducing bulking materials that create air pockets within the compost heap. These air pockets facilitate oxygen flow, a critical factor in expediting the composting process. As oxygen is essential for the microbes responsible for breaking down your food and yard waste, optimizing its flow within the pile is crucial. This can be achieved by strategically adding semi-decomposed wood chips, which help generate FAS and enable air to permeate your compost heap.

Notably, the Hotbin compost bin is a system that effectively utilizes this principle. Incorporating semi-decomposed wood chips creates ample Free Air Space, thereby fostering the necessary airflow for efficient composting.

Adopting this method can boost the speed of your composting process, ensuring your food and yard waste is decomposed promptly and effectively. So, the next time you consider enhancing your compost, remember to create some Free Air Space—it’s a simple step that can yield significant results.

Not Too Wet, Not Too Dry

Finding the right balance in moisture content is imperative to efficiently speed up composting. As research by Tiqua et al highlights, a compost heap’s temperature—and therefore its rate of decomposition—can dramatically fluctuate depending on its moisture levels. When moisture levels are too high, the heat drops, slowing down the composting process. This is partly due to water filling up free-air spaces, consequently reducing the oxygen available to microorganisms and decelerating the composting process. Therefore, ensuring your compost isn’t too wet is vital.

Now, how do you determine the right moisture level? One easy yet effective method is to take a handful of compost and squeeze it. Ideally, it should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Adding a dry material, such as shredded paper or torn-up cardboard, can help absorb the excess moisture if it feels wetter. Furthermore, covering your compost can protect it from rain and prevent over-saturation.

However, maintaining a compost heap doesn’t just involve preventing excessive moisture—it’s also about avoiding overly dry conditions. If your compost heap becomes too dry, decomposition may take significantly longer. This is because moisture supports the growth and activity of the microbes responsible for breaking down compost materials. If the centre of your compost pile is dry, spray each new layer with water as you turn it, maintaining the moisture level equivalent to a damp sponge.

The ideal moisture content for most compost piles ranges from about 40% to 60%. A moisture meter can provide a precise reading, but this hands-on, squeeze-test approach can be just as effective. Properly hydrating your compost pile ensures it remains a productive and valuable asset in your eco-conscious lifestyle. So remember—when it comes to compost, strive to keep your pile moist: not too wet or dry, but just right.

Increase the Volume of Your Pile

The size of your compost pile is more significant than you might think, particularly if you’re looking to accelerate the composting process. A larger pile, rather than a smaller one, can markedly enhance composting efficiency. The key here is heat – an essential ingredient in transforming organic waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants. A bigger pile equates to more heat, which subsequently means faster composting.

Let’s delve a little deeper into why this happens. With smaller compost heaps, the exterior environment can rapidly cool down the contents. On the other hand, larger compost heaps maintain their internal temperature more effectively. This is why expanding your compost heap’s size can significantly expedite the process if you’re using a heap rather than a bin.

So, how large should your compost pile be? To strike a balance between manageable size and efficiency, a pile of approximately 36” x 36” x 36” or one cubic yard (3 ft square by 3 ft high) is recommended. Such dimensions allow the pile to generate and retain ample heat for quick decomposition while remaining manageable to turn with a garden fork and handle. Furthermore, this size makes it easier to maintain the core temperature needed for optimal bacteria activity, usually between 57 to 75 degrees Celsius (135 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another important advantage of larger heaps is their superior ability to retain moisture—a critical aspect of composting. A pile of about a square meter is an excellent starting point, ensuring your mixture remains hot and moisture-rich.

Make the Compost More Acidic (Lower the pH)

pH plays a critical role in optimizing microbial activity, which is the driving force behind decomposition. When you first start composting, the microbes that diligently break down your compost materials are most active in slightly acidic to neutral environments. To be precise, a pH range of around 5.5 to 7 is typically favoured by these beneficial organisms.

What does this mean for your composting strategy? Simply put, controlling the pH can be an effective way to accelerate the composting process. If you’re interested in speeding things up, consider making your compost pile slightly more acidic. This can be achieved by introducing materials that lower the pH levels.

So, what kind of materials can accomplish this? Fruit waste is a great option that is usually readily available in most households. The natural acidity of fruit contributes to lowering the pH of your compost pile. In addition, oak leaves can be a valuable resource for making your compost more acidic. The tannins contained in oak leaves make them slightly acidic and a useful addition to your compost pile.

The compost produced in the Bokashi composting method is typically acidic. Implementing a first-stage Bokashi compost would allow you to compost otherwise non-compostable materials such as meat scraps and provide an acidic boost to your new pile.

As your compost matures, the environment should naturally tend towards neutrality. But during the initial stages, controlling the pH level by introducing slightly acidic materials can be a useful trick for quickly preparing your compost for use in your garden.

Shred all the materials

Transforming the elements of your compost into smaller constituents is a central part of effective and accelerated composting. The principle here is quite straightforward: larger materials have less surface area for bacteria to access and work their magic, thus prolonging the decomposition process. The quickest solution? Shred them: smaller materials break down faster.

Utilize any tools at your disposal to aid in this process. A simple pair of garden shears can efficiently chop a bucket of compost ingredients into more manageable pieces. At the same time, a lawn mower can be invaluable for larger quantities of materials. For those dealing with woody matter, consider investing in a compost shredder. These tools expedite the composting process and aid in aeration within the pile, promoting healthier microbial activity.

Indeed, one must not underestimate the benefits of smaller materials. Microbes can more easily access and decompose these tinier bits, which range ideally from half an inch to one and a half inches in size. And for the garden enthusiasts out there, blending your kitchen scraps can be an excellent approach, providing your compost pile with reduced material size and added moisture.

Remember, though, moderation is key. While it’s tempting to mince everything into a fine paste, this could impede airflow and prevent the production of the desirable, earthy pre-compost. Balance is the key here; enough chopping and shredding to expedite decomposition but not so much as to smother your pile’s essential breathability. This fine art of shredding strikes a balance that is vital in the pursuit of swift and efficient composting.

Ensure Proper Aeration

Aeration is key, ensuring that decomposition doesn’t only occur at the surface but within the entire volume of your pile. The simple act of turning your compost introduces fresh oxygen, an essential ingredient for the microbes hard at work breaking down your organic waste.

As the pile naturally decomposes, it contracts, and the once plentiful air pockets may collapse. This results in a challenging environment for our bacterial allies, who, deprived of oxygen, might not survive. Regularly turning your compost prevents this suffocation, keeping the microbial workforce thriving.

A compost fork or a pitchfork could be handy tools for this process, easing the manual labour involved in churning the compost. For those looking for a more automated solution, composting tumblers, which can be effortlessly turned, could be your answer. These ingenious inventions keep the back-breaking work to a minimum while still ensuring a well-aerated compost pile.

Now, the frequency of turning can vary depending on your chosen method and system. Some composters recommend a daily or bi-daily routine, while others advocate for a weekly schedule. A rule of thumb suggested by the National Organic Program is to turn your compost pile at least five times within the first two weeks. This regimen assists in fostering the activity of thermophilic, or heat-loving, bacteria.

The act of turning your compost is not simply a labour-intensive chore but breathes life into your compost pile and ensures a healthier, quicker composting process.

Insulate Your Compost Pile

Sustaining the warmth within your compost pile is key to successful composting. After all, higher temperatures translate into more efficient decomposition thanks to the increased activity of bacteria and fungi.

There’s a certain art to insulating a compost pile. It’s about creating a warm blanket, an envelope if you will, that holds the heat in. The tools you use can vary from traditional materials like straw or hay to more innovative solutions such as compost duvets.

These compost duvets, specifically designed to preserve the pile’s temperature, have been tested and found effective. An experiment by Green Compost Systems using a compost duvet in a Green Johanna compost bin recorded a significant rise in temperature – between 30 to 60 degrees Celsius, even in the frosty winter months.

Old carpets, bubble wrap, or even bags of leaves can serve as insulating material, providing a snug covering for your pile. For those in colder climates, burying the compost bin partially into the ground can be an effective insulation method. Heavy tarps or cardboard may also serve this purpose well.

A practical tip to remember when using materials like hay or straw is to distribute it evenly on top of your pre-compost heap. The thickness of the insulation layer can be increased in response to the weather, adding more as the temperature dips or if you aim to maintain a higher pile temperature.

Hot composting is a composting method in its own right which involves using specially insulated bins.

So, as the mercury dips, don’t let the cold slow down your composting efforts. An insulated compost pile is a warm, bustling hub of decomposition, allowing you to continue your eco-conscious endeavours unabated.

Use the Berkely Method

In the spirit of exploring more efficient composting techniques, particularly for those with substantial amounts of compostable material, one notable method deserves attention: The Berkeley method. Named after its developer, Robert D. Raabe from the University of California, this method advocates a specific approach to composting that can yield results in as little as two to three weeks.

With the Berkeley method, a large compost pile is assembled from small-sized materials, ranging from half an inch to an inch and a half in dimension. To create an optimal environment for decomposition, roughly equal parts of green and brown materials are mixed together. The hallmark of this technique, however, lies in its regular upkeep. The compost pile is diligently turned every one to two days, facilitating the decomposition process and ensuring a thorough mixing of materials.

While this method may require a tad more diligence than traditional composting methods, its efficiency cannot be overstated. In a matter of two to three weeks, the diligent gardener can witness the transformation of organic waste into nutrient-rich compost, ready for the garden. Utilizing the Berkeley method is not only an effective strategy for composting; it’s a testament to a commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Use a Compost Thermometer

Much like a chef uses a thermometer to ensure their roast is perfectly cooked, you too can benefit from a similar tool when managing your compost. As stewards of our compost pile, it’s essential to understand that these piles are much more than mere heaps of decomposing organic matter – they’re thriving ecosystems. And just as any living system, your compost pile has its ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to temperature.

Compost thermometer in a compost pile 742

A compost thermometer is a perfect tool for this purpose, a simple yet powerful instrument to keep your composting efforts on the right track. Its primary function? To let you know when your compost pile is ‘cooking’ at the right temperature or if it needs a bit of a nudge in either direction.

Recording the temperature as often as possible is an excellent practice that will enable you to identify when your compost pile is either getting too hot or too cold. This knowledge then informs your next steps, helping you adjust the pile’s conditions as needed to keep it within that desired temperature range.

Paying attention to these thermal shifts is a subtle yet effective way of maintaining the balance in your compost pile, ensuring those industrious microorganisms can work their magic efficiently. So consider a compost thermometer not just an optional extra but an essential part of your composting toolkit.

Use a Compost Tumbler

You might consider the use of a compost tumbler. Particularly suited for smaller compost batches, compost tumblers provide an accessible, efficient, and user-friendly solution to your composting needs.

Compost tumbler with food scraps in it 750

Available in various sizes and shapes, compost tumblers cater to all composting ambitions. Whether your plan calls for a smaller, 30-gallon batch or a more substantial 100-gallon allotment, you’ll find a tumbler that fits your needs. And these aren’t just ordinary containers; a keen understanding of composting principles underpins their design. They feature thoughtful ventilation, ensuring your compost receives the necessary air circulation to break down efficiently.

Perhaps the standout feature of a compost tumbler is the simplicity it brings to the otherwise laborious task of turning your compost. Rather than resorting to a pitchfork or shovel, the tumbler allows for effortless rotations. This convenience translates into the possibility of frequent turning, even daily, contributing significantly to a speedier composting process.

So if you’re looking for a composting method that combines functionality and simplicity, a compost tumbler might be the answer. It’s a fantastic choice that places the rich rewards of composting comfortably within your reach.

Kickstart with a Hot Water Bottle

Consider using a hot water bottle if you’re looking for an innovative way to jumpstart your composting process.

The process is delightfully simple. Once you’ve loaded your compost bin with a substantial amount of material, fill your hot water bottle with steaming water. This newly heated bottle (which needn’t be the type of hot water bottle you might take to bed but can be any appropriately sized drinks bottle) is then nestled into the top of your compost pile. And while it may seem like a small change, the heat from the water bottle can significantly impact the overall temperature of your compost pile.

Don’t necessarily expect an immediate effect on the first day. However, with consistency, adding another layer of compost material and repeating the hot water bottle process on the second day, you’ll start noticing a difference. By the third day, the compost pile should heat up considerably, reaching temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius.

Incorporating this method into your composting routine is a simple yet effective way to speed up the composting process. The warmth from the hot water bottle can give your compost the kickstart it needs to get the decomposition process rolling, setting you on the fast track to rich, beneficial compost.

Utilise Technology

These devices allow you to closely monitor key factors such as oxygen levels, temperature, and moisture content within your compost heap. All-in-one solutions have been designed to provide all these features; even better, they connect directly to your smartphone.

Add Worms

As your composting efforts take shape, there’s a natural ally that can contribute significantly towards enhancing the quality of the finished product – worms. They may be small, but their impact on compost is indeed substantial. Once the hot compost begins to cool, worms find their way into it, enhancing the process and producing nutrient-rich compost.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your compost pile cooling down? This is a prime time to enlist the help of compost worms, such as Red Wrigglers. These hardworking creatures can eat their own weight in decaying material daily, allowing them to process significant amounts of organic waste. The magic happens inside their gut, which houses a microbial life concentration a thousand times more than the food they consume.

This microcosm inside the worms not only aids in the decomposition process, but also plays a crucial role in eliminating pathogens from your compost. Though one might wish for instantaneous results, patience is key in composting. The longer the worms work on your compost, the better the end product will be.

Introducing worms into your compost mixture improves the quality of your compost and accelerates its production. They aid in the swift breakdown of food scraps, making them a significant asset in your efforts to speed up composting. And thus, worms are an integral part of a healthy compost heap, truly embodying the phrase ‘small but mighty’.


Our guide, How to Speed up Composting, offers a multitude of approaches to expedite the composting process, each tailored to different environments and resources. From beginning with a layer of sticks and twigs to stimulate aeration, to incorporating biochar, coffee grounds, and easily digestible materials to accelerate decomposition. Integrating old compost, garden soil, and nitrogen-rich materials ensures a well-rounded compost mix.

Balancing the carbon ratio is key, and using a compost activator or accelerator can kickstart the process. Creating free air spaces and monitoring moisture levels ensures optimal conditions for microbial activity. Increasing the volume of your pile and adjusting the pH to a more acidic state can further speed up decomposition. The method of shredding all materials helps to increase the surface area for microbial action.

Proper aeration and insulation of your compost pile help maintain the required temperature for optimal decomposition. The Berkeley method offers a systematic approach for larger volumes of compost. Monitoring the compost temperature with a compost thermometer and using a compost tumbler provides greater control over the composting process.

A hot water bottle can supply the initial heat necessary to kickstart the process, while technology offers advanced solutions to make composting more efficient. Finally, the addition of worms, nature’s diligent recyclers, can aid in breaking down organic matter, enhancing the quality and speed of compost.


Jonathan Gaze

Content Editor

Hello there! I’m Jonathan Gaze, Content Editor for Harry Rufus.

With my technical problem-solving skills and meticulous attention to detail, I present sustainable living advice clearly and understandably. I’ve developed a knack for filtering out the fluff, presenting you with only the most practical and reliable sustainable living guidelines.

Here’s what you can anticipate from my content:

  • Clear, reliable advice on sustainable living.
  • Informative articles that simplify complex concepts.
  • Trustworthy recommendations for eco-friendly practices.

I’m committed to making your transition to an eco-conscious lifestyle a breeze, turning challenges into opportunities.

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