Rev Up Your Compost With Compost Activators

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One thing that will really rev up a compost pile is boosting it with a compost activator. A compost activator adds nitrogen which gives all those microbes something to work on, thus creating heat. It’s this heat that really gets the compost pile pumping out fresh humus.

Adding a Compost Activator Can Really Speed Up CompostAlthough these microbes are found naturally in soil they may sometimes need a boost to really get the compost pile fired up.

There could also be a condition where there just isn’t enough green materials (or nitrogen) added to the pile to get it cooking enough.

This is where compost activators can come in and get your compost pile cranking out some awesome humus very quickly.

What are Compost Activators?

Activators are basically made up of a sources of nitrogen, and it’s this nitrogen that really fuels the fire in a compost pile.

They are not really needed if the compost pile is sitting on bare ground, and has the right mixture of browns and greens. The hungry microbes are naturally occurring in soil, and will find their way to the organic matter and get to work on their own. Activators can be added when there are times when you want to speed the composting process up.

Activators come in all kinds of flavors from natural activators to commercial artificial activators. Here we will go over some of the different types of activators you can use to kick your compost pile in high gear.

One note before we begin: Activators are not a compost fix-all. You still need to add green and brown materials to your compost, and keep it moist for it to decompose properly. Don’t expect to throw down some grass clippings, add an activator and get compost in a week (eventually it will decompose, but not how we would want).

Organic Compost Activators

Personally, I think sticking to a compost activator that is made up of organic materials is best. If you want an organic vegetable garden then you want to create organic compost. Artificial activators work, but they are created from chemical compounds.

Super Hot Compost StarterOne of the best compost activators on the market is Gardener’s Supply’s Super Hot Compost Starter.

It is made up of peanut meal, kelp meal, alfalfa, and poultry litter. It works really well for jump starting the decomposition of a compost pile. Just add it to your compost, wet it down, and let it go to work.

Of course, you don’t have to buy a product in order to rev up your compost. Manures from horses, cows, sheep, rabbits and chickens are an excellent compost activator, and you can’t get any more organic than that! Adding these manures will quickly add plenty of nitrogen to your compost and get it heated up very quickly.

Now, I know I will get a few raised eyebrows when I mention this next organic compost activator – human urine.

Yes, you read that correctly. Human urine might sound like an unusual thing to add to compost, but it is a terrific compost activator.

It is filled with nitrogen and other minerals that can give your compost the punch it needs. Before you go out whizzing on your compost pile, please remember to do this in moderation if you decide to. Too much human urine can cause the pile to obviously smell bad and you don’t want a pile of debris in your back yard to start smelling like a Port-a-Potty.

Another tried and true method of kick-starting your compost is by taking a one gallon bucket of finished compost and dumping it back onto your pile.

Get Your Compost Fired Up With a Compost Activator

If you want compost quicker for your vegetable garden, try adding a compost activator and help speed things up a bit!

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Comments

  1. Larrey Riddle says:

    Mike McGrath discusses activators in his book, “Book of Compost.” He states emphatically that activators are not worth the money paid for them. He says a handful of finished compost will do the same thing. Are you just pushing a product? This is a subject with as many different opinions as there are styles of gardens.

    • Hi Larrey – Yes, everything in gardening has different opinions and different views on things, especially when it comes to organic gardening methods. Everyone has their own view and that’s one of the things that makes gardening so interesting. A diverse mixture of opinions is very healthy, I think.

      As far as “just pushing a product” I do believe I mention in the article that compost activators are not necessarily needed, but can be used to speed up the process. I also mention organic activator alternative such as finished compost, manures, and even human urine (as weird as that is, but it is a good activator).

      So I don’t think I’m pushing a product on anyone. If you want to try the product, try it. If you do not, use one of the other methods.

      Maybe you should read the entire article before jumping to conclusions?

      Thank you for your comment and have a great day!

      By the way, nice last name ;)

  2. I started my compost pile in the fall, my source of leaves is from avocado trees. Avocado tree’s drop there leaves in the spring (at least mine do) I started my compost pile with green avocado leaves (nitrogen?) and brown dried grass clippings (carbon?) Pile never heated up added maure and soil, some evidence of breakdown, worms and bugs present. Should i start over with green class clippings and dry tree leaves?

  3. I make a concoction that really speeds up the process, I mix beer, a soft drink and urine together in a hose sprayer and soak the pile. Really throws it into overdrive!

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