How to Make Quick Compost

Overview

Good compost has nothing to do with expensive storage bins, it is all in the ingredients. The right mixture of green matter--vegetable and fruit scraps--and brown matter--grass clippings, leaves, and other dry organic material, with a little proper cooking and stirring can be broken down and ready for use in your garden in less than a month.

Step 1

Layer small twigs on the bottom of your bin or pile area. The twigs will allow air to flow up under and give the pile the opportunity to drain as it decomposes.

Step 2

Chop pieces small--especially vegetables and fruits. The smaller your ingredients are, the faster they will break down.

Step 3

Layer ingredients over your twigs, starting with brown matter--shredded newsprint that is not glossy paper, leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and dead flowers or plants that are not weeds. Add veggie and fruit scraps and clean, crushed eggshells next.

Step 4

Continue layering, trying to keep your pile as close to 50/50 brown and green layers. The closer the mixture is to even, the better the decomposition is going to be. If you are not concerned with having a ready compost in a few weeks, the ratio of brown to green does not have to be so precise.

Step 5

Water lightly. You need your pile to be moist but not too wet. If it gets too wet, rot will set in, which will stink as the items decompose, and the nutrients will wash away as the pile drains. Cover with a tarp, if need be, to protect it from rain.

Step 6

Turn regularly, letting the outsides of the pile get into the middle as well. You want the center of the pile to generate heat, which takes place as the brown matter releases nitrogen. Heat will help "cook" the compost, allowing it to break down quickly. Ideally, the temperature in your pile should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never add waste from animals that eat meat to your compost. Keep weeds out. They tend to have hardy seeds that you don't want to transplant to your garden. Slugs can be an important component to the chemical breakdown of your compost. If you are concerned with spreading them into areas you don't want them to be when you lay your compost, pick them by hand and dunk them into soapy water to kill them.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin or place to pile in your garden
  • Garden fork
  • Twigs
  • Grass clippings, leaves, shredded newsprint
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps, clean eggshells

References

  • A Guide to Quick Compost
  • Five Steps to Quick Compost

Who Can Help

  • 10 Tips to Quick Compost
Keywords: compost, vegetable scraps, grass clippings

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.