Compost accelerators (which can also be called compost activators or compost starters) are concentrated fungi and bacteria packages. When applied, they can jumpstart or bootstrap the decomposition process. They “accelerate” decomposition!
This essentially shortens the timetable for a process that already occurs naturally. Bacteria always work constantly to decompose any organic material in your compost. In addition to bacteria, you’ll also see insects like termites, grubs, and worms doing this work at the macroscopic level.
But without a compost accelerator, this process may take several days or weeks to really get going.
Excellent compost starters will have a few things in common:
- Lots of active bacteria ingredients: The best compost starters will have lots of active ingredients to foster faster decomposition and cellular replication. This helps your compost pile develop that much more quickly.
- Organic formulas: Any good compost accelerator should be made with organic ingredients as much as possible. Since most people get into composting purely for the eco-friendliness, this is a no-brainer. Try to avoid compost starters that have lots of chemicals or synthetic ingredients.
- Nitrogen-rich ingredients: Some of the best compost accelerators will have lots of nitrogen-rich ingredients, along with extra elements like magnesium and calcium. These can all combine to help bacteria grow and thrive in your compost pile, further boosting the decomposition process.
Rather than purchasing a compost accelerator, you can make your own at home using natural ingredients or stuff you have lying around. You’ll need:
- Around 6 ounces of beer
- 12 ounces of soda
- 1/2 a cup of ammonia
- 2 gallons of warm water
- A 5-gallon bucket
- A shovel
Use the shovel, bucket, and warm water to mix all of the other ingredients together. The beer is there as it contains yeast that can accelerate your pile’s decomposition process. The one half of a cup of ammonia will give extra nitrogen to the compost. The extra nitrogen can speed up how quickly the bacteria break down things like food, leaves, and other fiber-heavy ingredients.
After mixing everything thoroughly, pour the homemade compost accelerator over your compost pile. Use the shovel to mix everything around. Give it some time and see if this formula does as good a job as the commercially available compost starters you can find.
Alternatively, save a little bit from an already finished compost pile. Then add that bit of finished compost to a new pile. Doing this introduces healthy bacteria colonies that can jumpstart your new composting process. Be sure to mix both piles around to help the bacteria spread evenly.
Or you can use garden soil that has been grown in for several years will likely be chock-full of microscopic bacteria that can help break down a new compost pile in no time. However, this only works if you don’t use pesticides in your garden.
Compost starter seems all well and good, but do you really need it?
Most compost starters or accelerators are used to create a workable compost pile a little more quickly than normal. Some of them add additional nitrogen or fertilizer to a compost pile. Others might be microbe inoculates, helping microbes grow and replicate a little more quickly.
In either case, having a compost pile can help you be more environmentally friendly and help you bolster your soil. Most people use compost to help their soil in an environmentally friendly way, to reuse plant waste material, and help their gardens grow a little more organically.
However, there’s something to be said for the fact that compost accelerators and starters are not always made with environmentally friendly practices. For instance, many compost accelerators come in packages that are difficult to decompose biologically.
It’s essential to do your research and find compost starters that are worth your time and money and that are actually made using sustainable practices. Only then are compost accelerators really worth the expense.
Ultimately, you never need a compost accelerator in the first place. Any compost pile you produce will eventually decompose on its own given enough time and the right ingredients. However, they can be excellent ancillary products if you have the cash to spare and you work to ensure that you only use compost accelerators that are good for the environment in the long run.