Fast, 30-day compost

First, a caveat: Creating 30-day compost will only work when your outside temperatures are summer hot. I live in zone 10 for planting purposes, though I think of it as zone hell since I don’t have air conditioning. My mini compost piles, however, love it. From May through the end of November, I can create as many bucketfuls of put-on-the-garden compost as I have space and compost-making materials available every 30 days.

Dig a hole about a foot deep and a foot and a half across in diameter. In the bottom of the little pit put your “browns” (shredded by hand paper towel or toilet paper rolls, pizza boxes etc work great). I usually make a layer that lines the bottoms and up the sides of the pit a bit and then throw another thin layer on (say the shredded up top of a pizza box worth).

On top of that I put any left-over bread products and then I layer on a much thicker layer (about 5 inches worth) of “greens” –any and all vegetable scraps or veggies that went off before they could be consumed. If I’ve got eggshells or coffee grounds I next put them on (these won’t be fully decomposed in 30 days and only about half of them will be ready for spreading on the garden but that half is seriously worth it). I put on a thin layer of “browns” next, using lighter brown material like used paper towels and shredded up newspaper, and then another layer of “greens.”

I toss water on it twice a week (don’t soak it, just put enough to get it damp) and once a week I turn it over. After four weeks it is largely ready. I use a trowel rather than a shovel to scoop it into a container. Anything that hasn’t fully broken down I set aside and then push back into the pit as the new bottom layer once I’ve taken all the usable stuff out. About 90% of what you originally put in will be ready to put into the garden in 30 days.

Don’t add things to your pit after the first week — start a new mini-pit for the new stuff. Don’t add hard-to-break-down browns like small tree branches — put those into a 6-month to one-year compost pile.

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One response to “Fast, 30-day compost”

  1. Lynne says :

    I’m definitely going to try this, starting off with just two sites. Our soil is so poor here; it needs all the help possible to produce flowers or vegetables.

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