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How to Compost with Lime

pine needles and seeds image by Kathy Burns from

Lime usually is not added to a compost pile because lime reduces the nitrogen content of your pile--exactly what you do not want to do. There are exceptions. If you are composting highly acidic material, such as pine needles or fruit waste, and they comprise the bulk of your compost pile, then a small amount of lime can be added to your compost pile to reduce the acid content and aid in the decomposition of the material.

Create a compost pile primarily using pine needles and/or fruit waste that is about 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet (25 cubic feet).

Sprinkle 1 cup of agricultural lime on your compost pile for every 25 cubic feet of material.

Mix the material so that the lime is evenly distributed into the pile. Use a shovel or pitchfork to mix the pile. You want as much air as possible to get into your pile, so do not compact it.

Sprinkle the pile with water to get it damp but not soggy.

Cover the pile with a black tarp and weight down the edges so that the heat created by the decomposing pile is trapped under the tarp.

Remove the tarp after three days and turn the pile so that the outside of the pile is now on the inside. The pile should be getting very hot--this is a good thing. Add more water only if necessary to keep the pile damp. Replace the tarp.

Remove the tarp in three more days, and turn the pile. Replace the tarp and remove it once a week from that point on to turn the pile. Only add enough water to keep the pile damp, but do not get the pile soggy. Replace the tarp after each turning.

Check the size of the pile after 14 to 28 days. Once the pile has shrunk by about half and is no longer hot in the center, your compost is ready to be spread.


Do not add any more lime after the first 1 cup.

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