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March 2008
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Tip on increasing speed of composting

Q: I’m looking for a quick way to break down a large amount of grass clippings in my compost bin. We had a large amout of rain here in IL (that included flooding in the area) a couple of weeks ago. And after we got done mowing a couple of weeks ago, we had a lot of grass clippings that the mulcher on our mower couldn’t handle. We have a large pile in our yard and I want to get rid of it. I put some of the clippings in the composter. I put a layer of clippings then shredded paper, then clippings then paper and so on. Will this do the trick to get it done fast. I want quality compost but also want those gone quickly so it looks better in our yard and before the leaves start falling. Any suggestions?

Ans: To increase decomposition of the pile go to the garden center and pick up a Bag of Manure and add that to the pile and then cover it with a Tarp. Then about every other day turn the pile. The combination of the microbic action from the manure and oxygen from the turning will heat up the clippings really fast the covering with the tarp will keep the heat confine to the pile and in 5 to 10 days the clippings volume should be reduce by 2/3s and ready for distribution into the garden.
-There could be a matting problem with both the paper and the grass. They create layers that air can’t pass though. This means that you will have to turn it about once a week. If you don’t get the air to the compost the bacteria will go anaerobic and this will stink and take longer to compost.
-You should sprinkle a hand full of soil/finished compost between each layer. This gets all the right bugs into the pile ASAP and will aid the speed of your composting.
-If there is a lot of rain cover your pile. Too much water will give you a sloppy goopy stinking anaerobic mess.
-Finally make sure you have enough shredded paper to grass. If you don’t have the right ratio it won’t compost very quickly. 50:50 should be OK.

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