You have a compost: a box, bin, or simply a pile in the corner of the garden. It’s the place where you put your yard waste and food scraps, and chances are you place that compost there and don’t think much more about it. You may use the compost as a place to put your waste materials and avoid garbage fees, or you might see compost as a source of great organic material for the garden once the compost is complete. But have you considered ways to make your compost a superstar performer?
How Long Does It Take To Compost?
Composting can take a while, and the time that it takes depends on any number of factors. For the “dump and run” composter who places materials in the bin and walks away, it can take a year or more before those materials have turned into soil. If you’re a little more particular, composting happens more quickly. Adding alternating layers of green and brown materials like veggie scraps and leaves helps the compost build up heat, and this cooking process makes composting go more quickly. Size matters too: a bin between 30 and 130 cubic feet tends to have the right depth to heat up well. If you break materials up into smaller pieces, these will also compost faster. Certain materials like eggshells, avocado pits, and branches also take longer to compost: they’re just tough to break down. Adding air to the compost by turning it every 4 to 5 weeks can also help the process of aerobic (air-based) decomposition along.
Plants That Speed Up The Composting Process
Hurry, hurry. In this busy life, composting is one of those things that seems like it can’t be rushed, and to a large extent that is true. Invertebrates, microorganisms, and fungi do take time to do their rotting job, and all the while you’re waiting for that wonderful soil to be ready. While you can’t really rush compost, you can speed up the process a little bit. You can make sure your bin is a good size, chop up materials before they go in, and add leaves or newspaper to the many vegetable peelings you add. There are also plants that speed up the composting process. If you’d like to speed up your compost, try planting comfrey and yarrow in the garden. Add the leaves to your compost, and these nutrient-rich plants will help your compost heat up, moving the composting process forward.
Plants That Add Nutrients to Your Compost
If you’re using your composted materials to spread on your food gardens, you’ll be especially keen to learn that there are plant materials that will enrich your compost – sort of like a vitamin for your soil. What are these superpowered plants?
- Comfrey is a deep-rooted plant that contains a lot of potassium and nitrogen.
- Yarrow leaves concentrate sulfur and potassium, and they also contain helpful micronutrients like copper and phosphates.
- Nettle (yes, stinging nettle) is also a wonderful compost activator, and these plants also contain a lot of iron. Harvest the leaves with gloves on.
- Dandelion is an amazing medicinal plant, and also rocks the compost, adding phosphorus, magnesium, and copper. Add the leaves you don’t eat to the compost to enrich it with Don’t do this after the plant has seeded, or you’ll be adding a lot of new dandelions to your garden.
Would you add these superpowered weeds to your compost? Who knew that they had such amazing nutritional value?