Composting For Dummies
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If you build a basic compost pile, you'll have harvestable compost from the bottom and center of the pile in three to six months. To speed up the composting process, you have to invest a little more time and energy.

This speedier method requires more upfront labor chopping or shredding the organic matter, as well as regular turning of the pile. But you'll be able to harvest more compost in a shorter time frame.

  1. Follow the recipe for basic compost, but chop or shred all materials into small pieces before layering.

    After several days, the pile will shrink noticeably in size.

  2. Turn the entire pile, making sure materials on the outer edges get mixed into the interior to promote even decomposition.

    Remoisten if needed.

  3. If you're gung-ho, after a week or two, turn and remoisten the pile.

    If you're less than gung-ho and don't want to perform any labor that isn't absolutely essential, dig into the center of the pile with your pitchfork and check to see whether it's warm and moist. If so, you can skip turning. If it feels dry or cool, it needs turning and watering.

  4. Repeat the process every two or three weeks.

    Check the organic matter for heat and moisture, and turn and moisten it as needed.

After three or four turnings, you'll have harvestable compost.

About This Article

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Cathy Cromell is a writer and editor who's written extensively about gardening and landscaping. She is a certified master gardener, master composter, and master entomologist. The National Gardening Association is the leading garden-based educational nonprofit organization in the United States, providing resources at and

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