Our world is going green, and many gardeners are thinking organic. With the different problems associated with growing our foods with chemical fertilizers, many people are going back to composting as a source of nutrients for their gardens.
But if you have ever tried making compost from scratch, you will understand the frustration many people feel as they wait for days unending for their compost to be ready.
Composting can be a very slow process. But hurry, you can speed up the time it takes for your compost to be ready by using a compost catalyst made of simple materials all around us.
What is a Compost Catalyst?
We already know that making compost can take a very long time; this is not such a surprise because, in the natural world, the decomposition of materials, be they plants or animals, to yield nutrients to the soil is a very slow process.
But the earlier civilization, precisely in the days of the Roman empire, faced with this same problem, came up with a way of considerably speeding up the compost making by simply adding a compost catalyst.
A compost catalyst known as a compost accelerator, compost starter, or compost activator is any material with concentrated fungi and bacteria packages that you add to your compost pile that will help kick-start the decomposition process.
Adding compost catalyst to your compost pile introduces more fungi and bacteria, the “real workers” in the composting process; this results in the more organic matter being decomposed faster than usual because of the increase in the organisms in a pile.
Asides from these microorganisms that bring about the decomposition of compost materials, other animals like worms, grubs, termites, and other such insects still play a significant role in the composting process.
Materials That Make A Good Compost Catalyst?
For a material to be used as a compost catalyst, it must have some characteristics, and some of them are:
1. They Must Contain Lots of Active Bacteria Ingredients
Bacteria is one of the most important active ingredients that is needed to aid in speeding up the composting process. They must be active because they must be replicating themselves quite fast to quicken the decomposition of materials.
2. It Must Contain Organic Formulas
Any good compost catalyst should contain a good portion of organic matter, which are the materials that the organisms feed on and decompose in the process.
Compost catalysts with many inorganic materials like chemicals or other synthetic ingredients are not good for the compost pile because they are not eco-friendly. The inorganic ingredient destroys the idea behind composting: using organic manure.
3. It Must Have Nitrogen-rich Ingredients
Almost all the best compost catalysts are rich in NitrogenNitrogen; they also have other elements like calcium and magnesium.
When they combine, all these elements help the bacteria grow well and replicate in the compost pile, which also helps the whole decomposition process.
How to Make Homemade Compost Catalyst
There are different compost catalysts that you find online and in-store that aid in accelerating the composting process, and they can be quite expensive. Still, you can also make your homemade compost catalyst using some simple materials that you find around you.
There are different recipes for making compost catalysts, depending on your individual preference and the materials at your disposal. For every recipe you choose, you will always use the following items:
- Nitrogen source
- Bucket for mixing it
Below you will find 2 different recipes for making compost catalyst:
While the word compost catalyst sounds so scientific, the process of making it is not rocket science. It is not so complicated; all you need are:
- A 5- gallon bucket
- 2 cans of soda
- ½ cup of ammonia
- 6 ounces of beer
- 2 gallons of warm water
1. Open the beer 24 hours earlier; this allows the beer to go flat before it is used because you don’t need the gas from the beer. The yeast in the beer is your source of bacteria for this recipe.
2. You then pour the beer into the clean 5-gallon bucket.
3. The next thing you add is the ½ cup of ammonia-rich NitrogenNitrogen needed in the mixture to speed up the process because bacteria need NitrogenNitrogen to be activated.
4. Gently pour the warm water that you have into the beer-and-ammonia mixture in the bucket,
5. Also, pour the soda into the mixture. The soda provides the sugar that is also needed to activate the bacteria. Therefore you must ensure that you don’t use diet Coke because you need all the sugar from the soda.
6. You should then stir everything vigorously to ensure an even mixture.
There you have a compost catalyst that can speed up your composting process. You can now pour the mixture into your composting pile, and it will seep into the pile, thereby kick-starting the whole process. Afterward, you should add some shredded paper or cardboard to keep the pile’s moisture balanced.
The last thing you do is use the shovel or a garden fork to carefully yet thoroughly mix the compost pile; this is to ensure that all the compost ingredient mixes properly with the compost catalyst.
This stirring of the compost pile also incorporates more air into the pile, which the bacteria need for aerobic respiration.
The Second Recipe
Compost catalyst does need to be made in just one way; you can follow this second recipe to still get the same result.
The materials you will need are:
- 5- gallon bucket
- ½ cup of molasses
- ½ cup of ammonia
- Enough warm water
- A good scoop of mature compost or garden soil.
1. Fill the 5-gallon bucket with about 3½ gallons of water. The water must not be hot, or it can kill the bacteria or be too cold and slow the decomposition process.
2. The next step is to add the scoop of compost or garden soil which is where the bacteria needed for the decomposition process comes from.
3. You then add ammonia which is your source of NitrogenNitrogen.
4. Also, add molasses which is your sugar source and the source of food for bacteria.
5. Thoroughly mix the whole ingredients to ensure that the bacteria come into contact with the molasses and NitrogenNitrogen from the ammonia
6. Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours a day, no longer in a warm and sunny place, as this is the kind of temperature that will trigger the bacteria to start feeding on the sugar from the molasses. This will lead to the bacteria multiplying rapidly, which is the whole idea behind using a compost catalyst.
You have a compost catalyst that you can add to your compost pile. If, however, you feel that the mixture is too watery and that it can make your compost pile too wet, then you can strain off some of the water from the compost catalyst so that it is only the solid part of the compost catalyst that you add to your compost pile.
You can also dry up the compost catalyst by adding some brown compost material like newspaper or cardboard to the mixture to soak up some moisture.
What If I Don’t Use A Compost Catalyst In My Compost Pile?
The basic requirement for any compost pile to turn into compost is not a compost catalyst. You can get your compost to yield faster even without a compost catalyst if you ensure that your compostable pile is as heated up as it should be.
A well-heated compost pile yields compost very fast. The best temperature range for your compostable to be efficient is between 150°F to 160°F (65°C to 71°C).
The beneficial microorganisms can still survive at this temperature while pathogens and weed seeds die off. For your compost pile to maintain the given heat that makes for a fast composting process, it requires the following:
1. Have the right Volume of compost material in a pile: Smaller compost piles will not retain heat as efficiently as larger ones because there is more heat loss in the small pile.
You can remedy this situation by adding more compostable ingredients to the pile. Ideally, your compost pile should not be less than 3 cubic feet.
2. It should have adequate moisture: your compost Pike should be moist but not soggy and have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Ideally, the moisture content of your compost pile should be 40% to 60.
3. It should be adequately aerated: we turn the compost pile to incorporate oxygen which the microorganisms in the pile need. You should turn the pile at least once a week, depending on the Volume. If you turn smaller pikes, you rusk a lot of the heat being lost to the environment, which will slow the process.
4. Maintain the right C:N Ratio: your compost pile can be slow because of an improper balance between nitrogen and carbon materials in a pile. Many people come up with their carbon to Nitrogen ratio, but ideally, the ratio of browns to greens is 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.
This might be difficult to calculate because different compostable ingredients have carbon and nitrogen content. So you can resort to adding using 2 parts brown compost ingredient to 1 part green compostable ingredients, and then adjusting amounts as they go along.
Other Materials That Are Compost Catalysts
There are a few materials that can speed up your composting process, and some of them are:
This is an excellent source of NitrogenNitrogen, which is free, readily available, and renewable. Human urine has a large content of urea which is used widely in agriculture as fertilizer
2. Blood Meal:
With an N-P-K of 12-0-0, blood meal is a very rich source of NitrogenNitrogen. Animal blood collected from slaughterhouses is dried and added to the compost pile, and the result is that the pile will heat up due to a lot of microbial activities.
3. Grass Clippings:
Freshly cut grass clippings have an N-P-K value of 4-1-2, which makes them ideal as fertilizers and so can aid in speeding up the composting process. Because cut grass decomposes rapidly once in the compost pile, they are great for fuelling the microbes and heating the pile.
This is a nitrogen-fixing plant that can boost soil fertility because of its rich Nitrogen content. When this plant is added to the compost pile, be it as freshly cut or as an alfalfa meal, it will release NitrogenNitrogen and cause the compost pile to heat up.
5. Spent Coffee Grounds:
It’s been discovered that 25% coffee grounds are very efficient for maintaining consistently high heat in a compostable pile; hence adding them will keep the pile at the right temperature for microbial activities.
6. Feather Meal:
This is a rich source of Nitrogen-containing, sometimes up to 15% of the element. You can add them fresh to the compost or as feather meals; they act as compost catalysts.
Compost is fast becoming the go-to fertilizer for most gardeners because it is an eco-friendly option that is also cheap.
Making this compost can be so slow that it can take months to get the compost you want. However, there are compost catalysts that can be added to speed up the rate at which your compost gets ready.
Even better is that you can make these compost catalysts at home using very simple materials you can find around.
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We trust this article helped you know a good source of carbon for compost. You may also want to check out Good Source of Carbon for Compost.
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