The Q&A Archives: Compost Accelerator

Question: I have been adding lots of organic matter to my very sandy soil. I use lots of compost and have an active compost pile. I know that by adding an accelerator I can increase the temperature of the compost to help kill weeds and diseases. I usually dig the rows up each year and add fresh organic matter (leaves, grass, wood ash etc..) In the past I have just dug my trenches about 12 to 24 inches deep and filled them in with organic matter and mixed in the soil that I dug out. (I like doing the digging and it is great exercise). Would it be feasable to add this to the organic and soil that I put in the trenches?

Answer: I suppose it would be possible to add it to the material in the trenches, but since it sounds like you already have a good level of activity in your soil it might not make an appreciable difference. If you are concerned about "heating" you will need to build a rather large pile and add sufficient nitrogen to it to literally raise the temperature as checked on a thermometer. Most home piles do not heat up enough to really kill off the nasties, hence the recommendation to never compost diseased or badly infested plant material. Since you are composting in situ, I doubt that your process would reach the required heat levels no matter whether you add activator or not. On the other hand, the material you are adding should break down nicely over time and it sounds like you are building some wonderful garden soil by feeding it well and on a regular basis. This last is in fact probably more important than the actual materials you are adding as long as they provide a good steady supply of organic matter. Finally, the best way to find out what effect your work has is to test the soil and find out for sure. Having said all that, if it makes you feel better to add the accelerator it will certainly do no harm.

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