Update to Fast Compost

I wrote a post on March 30th about how to make fast compost.  Supposedly the method would yield finished compost in just 14 days or so.

The main difference from traditional composting was that this method installs aeration pipes into the pile to keep oxygen available everywhere during the process.

My pile heated up very quickly, but cooled down a week later.  I thought I watered it enough.  Today I decided to take as much finished compost from the pile as I could, to top-dress a strawberry bed.

I was able to get some fairly nice compost with only slightly identifiable ingredients, but not an entire finished pile…basically just the middle.  I took 3 kid’s wagon’s full…probably 250 pounds total.

The bottom of the pile was VERY, VERY dry, so I ran a garden hose to water that area for 5 minutes and mixed in some fresh grass clippings.  All the edges of the pile were also very dry and hadn’t decomposed at all.  I don’t know what to do about that except mix the pile up more often, which is what I was trying to avoid with this “fast” method.

Bottom line, it worked for me, but just barely.  I think I’ll continue to use some vent pipes in my compost piles when they are deep, but I won’t count on 14 or 30 day compost.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I have been composting for about 35 years now. All I can say is that so far I have not ever found any way to make fast compost without turning the pile. I even went so far as to buy the Urban Compost Tumbler which works quite well. Even it has its issues, the major one was that there were wasps who thought it was just great to go into the tumbler through the aeration holes in the bottom and who then got very upset when it was tumbled. So I had to stuff the bottom apparatus with plastic net bags like cherry tomatoes sometimes come in.

    But the bottom line is, the pile has to get mixed because no matter how much you water, the outside does not ever have the proper hydration level to compost right. The good thing is that turning a compost pile is great exercise.


    • Great exercise is right! My job has me sitting still all week and when the weekend comes I have a lot to catch up on. I earned my exercise badge yesterday, and not just with the compost. I also have a nice new pile of green wood that will cure just in time for a solstice salad celebration fire in the fire pit.

      My parents tried one of those compost tumblers 20 or 25 years ago and ended up with rock hard grass-clipping nuggets that wouldn’t break down any further, no matter what they tried. I guess nothing is completely fool-proof, but a plain old pile that gets turned and looked through once in a (patient) while is as reliable as anything else.


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