Best Compost Starter

We all know how to make compost or vermicompost. Compost manure is a process that is made by decomposing various types of waste products such as cattle excrement, food scraps, straw, weeds, water hyacinth, etc. in a specific place. It can be made by decomposing many things together or sometimes with a single ingredient. The role of brown and green things in making compost manure is quite obvious. Plant dried leaves, dried stems, bark, newspapers, and other materials which are not covered by green are called brown materials. These brown ingredients increase the carbon in the compost manure. Grass, herbs, shrubs, plants, and weeds on the other hand are covered under green materials. These green ingredients ensure the presence of nitrogen in the compost manure. When the predominance of green material in the compost pile is low, it takes a long time for microorganisms to start the composting process. In order to increase the efficiency of microorganisms and to maintain the ratio of carbon and nitrogen in the compost manure, it is necessary to put the best compost starter inside the compost pile. In today’s post, we will discuss what a compost starter is, the features of a compost starter, and how you can make a compost starter yourself. Let’s get started.

Best carbon nitrogen materials for decomposition

High carbon materials for compostC: N ratio
Dried leaves30-80:1
Rice straw, Husk40-100:1
Timber chips or scobs100-500:1
Tree bark100-130:1
Waste paper150-200:1
Journal, Magazine, Pasteboard, Cardboard560:1
Table: High carbon materials for composting
High nitrogen materials for compostC: N ratio
Greens garbage15-20:1
Coffee powder20:1
Weed cutting15-25:1
Dung manure5-25:1
Table: High nitrogen materials for composting
Best Compost Starter
Photo: Best compost starter, Credit: Instagram @ saguaroacres

What is a compost starter?

A compost starter is a combination of microorganisms, probiotics, and essential oils that reduce the odor of waste compost and the seeds of billions of microorganisms that break down organic matter and accelerate the process of making compost in the compost pile and acts as a main driving force for the activity of microorganisms into the compost bin.

The process of making compost manure from organic waste in the compost bin is usually done through the presence and reproduction of microorganisms. In the initial stage, it is a slow process. But if microorganisms are provided from outside with suitable habitats, the process will be very fast. In addition to the rapid decomposition process, the waste contained inside the bin will be considered as its suitable food and the environment of the bin as its suitable habitat. That is, the compost starter acts as a catalyst in the compost-making process.

Related information about compost starter

Do I really need compost starter?

Brown and green ingredients are very important for getting good quality compost. Brown materials such as tea bags, coffee base, scrub, wood powder, dried leaves, dried weeds, pine needles, sawdust, corn stalks, cotton fabric, newspaper, paper plates, printing paper increase the amount of carbon in the compost manure. On the other hand, among the green materials, grass, vegetable peels, fruit peels, plant trimmings parts, fresh feces of cows and goats increase the amount of nitrogen in the compost manure. In general, the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in compost manure should be 30: 1. That means one part nitrogen would be best for 30 percent carbon by weight. Excess nitrogen will create ammonia gas inside the manure which will easily mix with the air, blow out and spread odor. Excess nitrogen will increase the temperature of the compost excessively and decrease the microbial activity, which is why the ratio of carbon-nitrogen to 30: 1 is essential. To keep the mixture of brown and green ingredients right inside the composting manure i.e. to keep the ratio of carbon-nitrogen in the right balance, to increase the microbial activity, to keep the movement of air and water inside the composting manure, and to keep the temperature of the microorganisms at an appropriate level the compost starter must be applied to the compost pile.

What is a natural compost starter?

Liquid dung

Liquid dung manure contains a lot of water. From the liquid dung manure, separates the nutrients from the water with some acid. Then the water is filtered and the nutrients are taken out. Precious phosphorus and phosphate are also extracted from the rest of the water. Nitrogen available as ammonia is converted to ammonium sulphate fertilizer. Ammonium sulphate is produced from liquid dung manure, which is a nitric fertilizer. There is also phosphate and finally, all these ores, which are made as granules which are used as natural compost starters.
Bone meal
Bone meal is another excellent compost starter made naturally, it is mainly made from animal bones. It is made from completely natural ingredients. Bone meal contains 12% to 16% phosphorus. Its use makes up for the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus in the compost pile. The macro and micronutrients required for microorganisms are obtained entirely from bone meal. Microorganisms can slowly absorb food from the bone meal or the food material is slowly released from the bone meal. So bone meal or bone powder can be given in the compost pile as a natural compost starter.
Blood meal
Blood meal can be used at a moderate rate to meet the food deficiency of microorganisms in the compost bin. It fills the nutrient deficiency of nitrogen and phosphorus in the compost bin. For those cattle that have grown up eating grass, herbs, on which no chemicals have been applied, it is vital to make a blood meal from the blood of that healthy animal.
In order to digest the blood mill, first, you have to make em-1 bacteria culture. For this, mix 1 liter of sour curd with 1 liter of filtered water, mix one tablespoon of molasses with it and stir for a while. Then pour the liquid mixture into an empty 5-liter bottle, tighten the cork of the bottle and leave it in a shady place. After two days, when the vapor accumulates in the top of the bottle and becomes turbid, the cork of the bottle should be gently loosened to release some gas from the bottle. If the gas comes out, it means that the em1 bacteria have started to form. In this way, after two days, you have to take out a little gas and tighten the cork of the bottle. This process will continue for 7 days. After 7 days the em1 bacteria will be ready.
Now the mixture of animal blood mixed with fine wood powder or wheat bran should be mixed well by mixing the liquid of em1 bacteria in both hands. At this time you have to take a face mask because there will be a strong stench. This time the mixture should be filled in a 12-liter plastic bucket that cannot be ventilated, covered with a lid, and left in a shady place for 10 weeks. A drainage system at the bottom of the bucket is essential. This is because if the mixture continues to rot, some liquid will want to come out, which will not form a blood meal if the drainage system is not maintained. Place a small bowl under the bucket to store the juice, even if it is dirty or turbid. If you find the activity of microorganisms in the compost bin is low, apply this juice and you will get very good results.
If you open the mouth of the bucket after 10 weeks, a foul odor may come out. And the blood meal mixture will have a slightly wet feeling. At this time the pH of the mixture will be 5-5.5. Then the mixture of blood meal should be easily ventilated and dried in such a shady place for 2 weeks to see that there are no lumps. After 1 to 2 weeks, if the pungent odor is removed and it smells like soil, you can pack the blood mill mixture in a 1 kg plastic bag. This blood meal can last 1 year.
Alfalfa is a very good quality grass. This grass is also known as lucerne. It is legume grass so they can add the necessary nitrogen to the air through bacteria. And once cultivated, grass can be collected for 4-5 years. Grass is to be cut from 2-3 inches above. This reduces the wastage and increases the yield at a later stage. The first time is during flowering and the next stage is after 35-40 days. This grass can be cut 8/10 times a year.
Alfalfa grass contains about 5 times more protein and plenty of vitamins than other high-yielding grasses. When alfalfa grass is cut before flowering, it contains 3% vegetable protein and 16.4% other nutrients.
It is a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Copper. It also contains sufficient amounts of calcium and carotene and a small amount of phosphorus. This is why it is considered the queen of food for microorganisms.
Soybean meal
After extracting oil from soybean seeds, what remains as a by-product is soybean meal. Soybean meal is a source of natural compost starter of excellent quality. It is a great source of protein in the diet of micronutrients. This protein contains more amino acids than other vegetable proteins. This is considered an alternative to fish meal.

Soybean meal contains:

1. Dry meter 89%.
2. Crude protein 48%.
3. Fat 1%.
4. Ash 6.5%.
5. Starch 6%.
6. Crude fiber 3%.
7. Calcium 0.45%.
8. Phosphorus 0.16%.
9. Total digestible nutrients 71%.
10. Net energy-lactation 73.7%
The following vitamins are found in soybean meal:

1. Vitamin-E 4.8 mg/kg
2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 3 mg/kg
3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 3mg/kg
4. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 7 mg/kg
5. Niacin 39.9 mg/kg
6. Pantothenic acid 15 mg/kg
7. Biotin 0.3 mg/kg
8. Colin 2792 mg/kg
All the minerals found in soybean meal:

1. Calcium 3.4 g/kg
2. Phosphorus 6.2 g/kg
3. Phytate phosphorus 3.7 g/kg
4. Magnesium 2.9 g/kg
5. Potassium 21.5 g/kg
6. Sodium 0.08 g/kg
7. Chlorine 0.4 g/kg
8. Sulfur 4 g/kg
9. Manganese 32 mg/kg
10. Zinc 36 mg/kg
11. Copper 14 mg/kg
12. Iron 240 mg/kg
13. Selenium 0.2 mg/kg
14. Cobalt 0.3 mg/kg
15. Molybdenum 4 mg/kg
16. Iodine 0.1 mg/kg
The protein obtained from soybean meal contains the following amount of amino acids:

1. Lysine 27 g/kg
2. Threonine 16.8  g/kg
3. Methionine 6.2 g/kg
4. Cysteine ​6.7 g/kg
5. Methionine + cysteine ​​13  g/kg
6. Tryptophan 5.9  g/kg
7. Isoleucine 19.9  g/kg
8. Valine 21  g/kg
9. Leucine 33.1 g/kg
10. Phenylalanine 22  g/kg
11. Tyrosine 15.3  g/kg
12. Phenylalanine + tyrosine 36.3 g/kg
13. Histidine 11.7 g/kg
14. Arginine 31.8 g/kg
15. Alanine 19 g/kg
16. Aspartic acid 48.9 g/kg
17. Glutamic acid 77.4 g/kg
18. Glycine 18.3 g/kg
19. Serin 20.9 g/kg
20. Proline 21.7 g/kg

What are the best compost activators?

Trichoderma: Trichoderma is a useful fungi that exists openly in the soil, that is found in massive volumes in plant roots, composted manure, and processed compost. It dispatches destructive germs of soil-dwelling plants such as bacteria and nematodes. Trichoderma is a microbe acquired from the natural environment that acts as the best activator for organic compost.
Trichoderma- can be developed by means of tricho suspension, paste, and powder. It is possible to produce tricho-compost by mixing a watery solution of tricho-suspension in decayed garbage.
Dhaincha/Sesbania plant: Sesbania (Sesbania bispinosa) seeds contain a lot of protein and carbohydrates as well as many other beneficial elements that are necessary for the microorganism to nourish the body. Each 1 kg of Dhaincha seeds contains:

296.1-321.2 grams of crude protein.
42.2-64.2 grams of crude lipids.
56.7-72 grams of crude fiber.
27.6-31.9 grams of ash.
531.3-550.6 grams of carbohydrates.
It also contains a lot of potassium, zinc, tannins, and many other beneficial elements. The amount of protein in Dhaincha seeds is 66.71% in case of raw seeds and 76.8% in case of dried or ripe seeds; the microorganism absorbs it in its body after taking it as food.

Alfalfa grass: This grass contains an average of 20% dry matter and an average of 21-23% crude protein of dry matter. On average, microorganisms get about 10 megajoules of metabolic energy per kg of dry matter from alfalfa grass. Another important aspect of this grass is that it contains high levels of minerals that are not found in any other green grass. The high-quality beta carotene present in alfalfa-grass accelerates the composting process by increasing the fertility of beneficial microorganisms.

Does yeast speed up compost?

Let’s learn the process of how to make a yeast compost accelerator at home.

1. Avoid damp areas or places where food is prepared, such as damp or kitchen. Close the windows of the place where you will grow your yeast, especially in warm temperatures. Always wash your hands with your disinfectant soap before handling the culture.

2. Wash the table or counter as much as possible. Kill the present microorganisms using 70% alcohol or similar products (isopropanol). Let it dry.

3. Powdered agar is available in many Asian stores. If you can’t find it, use uninterrupted gelatin powder. Be aware, however, that gelatin-based cultures should be kept in a cool place to avoid melting.

4. Disinfect glass containers and their lids using a pressure cooker for at least 10 minutes to remove any source of contamination. Petri dishes are commonly used for this. However, you can use any small glass container.

5. Use distilled water. If your tap water is “heavy” (with lots of irons or any other metal), it can cause bacteria to grow in your yeast culture. Use it only when the level is 5.3 or lower to measure the pH of your water.

6. Boil 1 cup (240 ml) of water and 1/4 (60 ml) of 1 dehydrated malt extract. Heat water in a pressure cooker, if possible use a pyrex container or casserole. Add the dehydrated malt and stir well to dissolve. Boil for about 15 minutes, taking care to reduce the heat if it is close to the heat stream.

7. Reduce heat and add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of powdered agar, stirring until it dissolves. Yeast already brings in all the nutrients that are needed for yeast to develop but agar makes the mixture more concentrated, serving as the basis of the culture. Note, that the mixture will not thicken instantly. If you do not have powdered agar, use flavored gelatin. But do it as the last step, as it melts in contact with hot water. Boil for another 15 minutes, follow the procedure carefully so that the liquid does not flow.

8. Allow cooling to 50 degrees Celsius or less. If using gelatin, wait for it to cool a bit more. The mixture should be more consistent but not completely solid.

9. Take the suspension in your sterile container and fill the mixture a little with each one (“initial must”). Petri dishes need to be filled to 1/4 of their capacity. Larger containers do not require more than this amount.

10. Keep a lid in the container or cover them with plastic wrap. Let them cool for about half an hour, observing the hardening of warts due to the agar.

11. Disinfect the inoculation loop. Available in laboratory equipment stores, this tool has a small loop at the end of the stem that is used to transfer yeast.

12. Sterilize the handle of the inoculation loop by heating the tip on a flame until the whole tool is incandescent (orange or red). Allow it to cool at room temperature. If you do not cool the handle, the heat can kill the yeast. Cooling it with water or air usually increases the risk of contamination by other organisms that have died of alcoholism.

13. Pull the handle lightly over the yeast colony. Do not try to take visible amounts. All you have to do is scrape the handle lightly with a sieve over the liquid.

14. Add yeast to the wart surface, do this step very carefully. Move the handle slightly above the surface of the wart in a few containers, leaving the lid open for the shortest time. This way you will transfer the yeast to your warts (which we hope is germ-free and rich in nutrients). To reduce the possibility of contamination, close the container immediately. Turn the petri dish over or cover 3/4 of the thickness of the “starter tube”. The process of adding a germ to a dish is called “striking” in microbiology.

15. Repeat the disinfection process before adding the yeast to each container, remembering to disinfect and cool the handles in each. Home-bred yeast cultures have a high probability of contamination. Thus, working with multiple cultures individually increases your chances of developing one in the end.

16. Examine the crop container for the next few days. Store these at a temperature of 21 to 26 degrees Celsius, the ideal range for yeast development. Leave crops that show “down” or mold balls or that show no signs of growth after several days. Cultures that develop properly will form a layer of milk beneath them and individual colonies will be able to form dotted trails across the surface.

17. Transfer the culture grown in the fridge. Once you are able to activate your colonies, wrap them completely with electrical tape or other dark material, as light can damage yeasts. Store them in the fridge, ideally at 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, to reduce their growth rate and prevent them from dying from lack of food. When you want to use them, remove them from the fridge a little earlier so that they return to room temperature before being placed in the wart.

The yeast colony thus prepared is used as a good quality compost starter. This homemade yeast colony will accelerate the composting process.

What is the best compost starter?

We’ve been learning about natural compost starters and homemade compost starters for a while now, and here are a few more good quality compost starters that you can easily collect from the Amazon store that will give you the expected results when applied to a compost bin.
1. Jobe’s Organics Compost Starter
Jobe’s company makes eco-friendly organic gardening products. They are currently marketing more than 200 agricultural products in North America. Most of their products provide support for creating sustainable gardens. Among them, the best-selling product is Jobe’s organic compost starter. Like other compost starters, Jobe’s organic compost starter provides the nutrients needed for soil-dwelling microorganisms, accelerating the process of composting by breaking down organic matter into soluble forms of compost manure. This 4-pound packet can be used every four to six weeks in the compost pile.
How to apply?
Sprinkle 2 cups of organic compost starter powder per cubic yard of compost. After sprinkling, the compost pile should be wetted with light water. But more water should not be given. The compost starter powder should be mixed well all over the place of the compost pile. Covering the pile of garbage mixed with compost starter, in this way can cause bacteria to grow very quickly. This way you can use a compost starter every four to six weeks. After use, keep the comp[ost starter’s packet tightly closed so that it cannot be ventilated.
2. Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter
If most of the waste in your compost bin is solid, the decomposition process may take a long time. In that case, you can use Espoma organic compost starter which can easily convert solid waste into compost. What we like most about this Espoma organic compost starter is that they are able to maintain the pH balance of the compost by utilizing proper energy resources.
How to apply?
The most suitable compost pile to use Espoma compost starter is four feet by four feet in size. The organic waste mixture should be moistened with light water using one cup of compost starter for every 16 sq. Ft. The next time you have to move the pile of garbage well, it will be enough to turn the pile once a week.

Let’s end the discussion

The main topic of today’s discussion was the best compost starter. We have thoroughly discussed what a compost starter is, how a compost starter works, the importance of a compost starter, how to make a natural compost starter at home, and where to procure a good quality compost starter. You can buy a compost starter at home or in a store and apply it to your compost bin, but there are a few things you must adhere to, such as keeping piles of rubbish small at all times. It will be easy to arrange the necessary nutrients for the microorganisms by moving the garbage. The compost pile should be turned upside down at least once a week as this will increase the airflow inside the waste, increase the microorganism fertility and help to create a suitable habitat.

Noticing the presence of odor inside the compost means that the compost pile must be turned upside down in case airflow is not present properly.

No matter which type of compost starter you use, its carbon-nitrogen ratio must be 30: 1. If the presence of nitrogen is high, ammonia gas will be formed which will spread a bad smell. As the presence of nitrogen increases, carbon material i.e. brown material has to be added. Similarly, if the amount of carbonaceous material increases, green materials should be used in organic waste. A properly maintained carbon-nitrogen ratio will be very good to get good quality compost.