Well, the answer to that question depends on a lot of factors.
On average, it can take up to six months for your compost pile to fully decompose. Like I mentioned earlier, it depends on a lot of factors. For your compost pile to decompose quickly, you will need to ensure that the right conditions are in place.
When you decide to make a compost pile, you should have it at the back of your mind that it doesn’t happen overnight. Your compost pile can take anywhere between a few months or years to be ready for use. If you want to harvest your compost faster, you will have to put in the necessary work.
Factors that Affect Composting Time
It doesn’t matter the type of materials you toss into your compost pile; the duration it takes for compost to be ready for use depends on the following factors
The temperature needed for composting to take place ranges from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Shape and Size
The shape and size of your compost materials also determine how long it will take for it to be ready. This is because a large material takes longer to decompose compared to when you break them down into smaller pieces.
Density is another factor that determines how long it takes for compost to be ready. Heavy materials like wood fibers will take a longer time to decompose compared to straws. Reducing the density of the materials you add to your compost bin will help to speed up the decay process. Hence, making sure that your compost is ready sooner.
4. Size of Compost Pile
The size of the compost pile also determines the composting time. If you pile up too many materials, you should expect it to take longer to decompose compared to when you are composting in a small bin. You can speed up the composting rate by making use of small piles or composting in batches.
5. Water and Air
Moisture and air are other important elements that need to be right for composting to take place. Your compost materials need to get enough air and moisture for the decomposition to take place. You can speed things up by ensuring you water the bin regularly and turn the pile. We will talk more about this later in the post.
Best Season to Compost
Many of our readers ask us what the best time is to make a compost bin. In practice, composting takes place faster in a warm environment with the right amount of moisture. This is why compost tumblers and hot bins compost materials faster than when left in a pile.
Summertime or any other season will be okay to start a compost pile. But we do not advise you to start one in winter. This is because the pile wouldn’t get the required heat to start the decomposition process. This means that the pile will only begin to decompose once spring sets in.
How Long does it Take to Make Compost?
Like we mentioned earlier, it can take between three to six months to get your compost pile to fully decay with the right factors in place. There are certain things you can do to speed up the time it takes for your compost pile to be ready. We have broken them down for you below.
How to Make Compost Faster?
You can speed up the compost time by ensuring that:
- Use the Right Materials
if you add the right materials in your compost, there will not be any issues with the decomposition process. Include the green and brown materials in the right ratio and there wouldn’t be any issues with your compost. If you want to harvest your compost faster, you need to use waste that can decompose quickly. Some examples of nitrogen-rich green materials you can use include grass clippings, vegetables, fruits, while carbon-rich brown materials include paper, wood chips, sawdust, and straw.
- Use a Large Bin
If you are composing in a bin, you should endeavor to make use of a large bin. This is because the materials decompose quickly when they have enough space to retain the heat produced in the container. A small size bin will not be able to produce enough heat like a large one. Also, you should opt for plastic bins instead of wooden ones. Compost bins made out of wood do not retain much heat compared to plastic ones.
- Shred the Materials
Before adding any material into the compost bin, you should ensure that it has been shredded into tiny pieces. Adding large-sized materials inside your compost bin only further delays the decomposition process. Shred the papers, trim the grasses, and breakdown the wood into pieces. This makes it easier for the worms and nature to work on the materials quicker than when they are not broken down.
- Add Moisture
You can also speed up the compost time by making sure that the pile is wet. You don’t need to flood the bin with water, a little sprinkle every two or three days will be enough to kick start the decay of the materials in the bin.
- Turn the Pile
This is important if you want to harvest your compost quickly. Turning the pile makes it possible for heat and air to get to all parts of the bin. It also ensures that all the materials get enough heat and moisture. You can make use of a rake to turn the pile once or twice a week. I suggest you do this often if you have the time. This will help the materials to settle in the bin and also encourage the activities of the microorganism needed to speed up the decay.
- Use a Compost Tumbler
A compost tumbler or rotating barrel as it is often called is a quick way to compost in an apartment. These compost tumblers are designed to save the stress and time associated with maintaining a compost pile. They also reduce the smell and make the whole process neat. Let’s not forget also that there are brands that can process compost in less than two weeks. So investing in a rotating barrel might be a good investment if you are looking to harvest your compost quickly.
There is no straight answer to the question of how long does it take to make compost. It depends on the factors we have mentioned earlier. You can also speed up the decomposition process by adopting the methods mentioned above.