How Long Does It Take to Compost?

Compositing is a great way to enrich the soil in your home and suppress bacteria and pests that attack your plants – whilst giving them sufficient nutrients for proper growth. However, to make the most of this process, you must first know how long does it take to compost. Unless you are an expert, it is not easy to know this. So, the guide below can help you figure out exactly how long it takes to compost.

How Long Does It Take to Compost?

How Long Does It Take To Compost?

Generally, to make your compost, different foods are combined. Thus, this explained the different time frames needed for each food type to be broken down. Whilst some foods depend on organisms such as worms, others simply depend on Mother Nature. Typically, it may take anywhere from a month to 12 months for your food to decompose and turn into compost.

Factors Influencing the Rate of Composting

Many factors affect the rate of composting. These include:

Mixing the content

Even how often you mix the contents of the compost pile affects the rate of composting.

Typically, how often your turn and mix the pile affects aeration – which is essential for the microorganisms involved in the process (they need air).

Whilst mixing the pile can be time-consuming and hard work, doing so can help aerate the material and enhance the rate of composting.


The material used affects the rate of composting as well.  In addition to the type of material, other factors surrounding it are important as well – these include the size, the surface area, and even the ripening needed.  For example, fruit cuttings such as lemon and orange peels rot faster whilst cabbage and avocado stones are not the best options. You also want to avoid adding large amounts of material with chemicals such as herbicides – a good example of these is lawn mowed grass.


Factors Influencing the Rate of Composting

The compost bin is a significant factor in influencing the rate of composting. Many little sub factors around the bin play a role too. These include the type of bin, the location, and even the moisture and aeration level in the bin.

For example, using a bin that creates a hotter interior environment will enhance the speed of the composting process – therefore, a plastic bin is more likely to yield faster results than a wooden one. In addition to the environment, the bin size also plays a role in determining the rate of composting. A smaller bin placed in a sunny place, for example, will result in quicker composting than a larger one.

How Do You Know When Compost Is Ready?

The easiest way to check if your compost is ready is by observing the topsoil. The topsoil must be dark and dirt-like crumbly. You can further confirm if your compost is ready by doing a simple test.

Take a sample and seal it in a plastic Ziploc bag. Three days later, open the bag and check how it smells.

If it smells foul, the compost is not ready as the bacteria will still be working on the decomposition. If it smells earthy, then, it should be ready.

How Can You Make Compost Faster?

There are several ways you can enhance the rate of composting. These include:

Use the right food type

How Can You Make Compost Faster

The type of food used can affect the rate of composting. After all, some foods are known to break down quicker than others. A mixture of nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich foods – with a higher nitrogen-rich food ratio will increase the rate of composting. This is because the nitrogen content helps to prevent the compost from becoming too moist whilst carbon-rich foods and items can enhance the speed of breaking down.

Nitrogen-rich foods include chicken droppings, eggs shells, and vegetable/fruit scraps, just to mention a few. Carbon-rich items include corn stalks, dry leave, and shredded paper.  Whilst it is important to pick foods that facilitate an overall fast composting rate, you also want to add foods that decompose quickly on their own as well.  For example, food and material such as vegetables, tea bags, and pet foods can decompose within 6 months.

However, you may also have food that takes a long to decompose (up to three years). You need to avoid or use less of this food.

Such foods and materials include eggs shells, avocado stones, and wine corks, just to mention a few. Furthermore, we recommend completely avoid animal products and other organic material that are difficult to break down such as raspberries and thick branches as this will simply drop your rate of composting.

Get the right material size

The size of the material you intend to compost also plays a role in influencing the rate of composting. Typically, smaller materials break down faster – since microorganisms have less material to go through. Composting materials in small batches is the best way to maintain faster composting rates.

Prepare the right environment

As mentioned above, the composting environment plays a role in quickening the rate of composting. For example, a hotter bin can increase the speed of composting. The easiest way one can do so is by simply use a covered plastic bin under hot and sunny settings, your compost pile will breakdown and rot quickly – turning into compost with just a little bit of turning.

You can even avoid turning the pile too much as this may mix decomposed and partially decomposed foods – if you start the process in summer – depending on the materials and food types used – you may have your compost ready towards the end of fall.

Invest in a composter

Alternatively, if you can afford it, investing in a composter (or composting bin) is an excellent way to keep the composting rates up. This bin is particularly designed for the job thus, it doesn’t only ensure effective composting but, helps to keep the speed. Compost bins also eliminate unwanted factors such as pests as well as keeping raccoons and other animals away from your compost pile.

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