Berkley Rapid Composting Method
Shredding and Frequent Turning
This process can produce compost in 2 to 3 weeks. Several factors are essential to the rapid composting method:
1 Small pieces (chopped) – I use a mulching mower on the lowest setting
2 Maintain a Carbon:Nitrogen (C:N) ratio of 30:1 when adding materials
Mixing equal volumes of green plant material with naturally dry plant material generally yields such a ratio; however, see table on the next tab.
3 Once a pile has been started, nothing should be added, because it takes a certain length of time for the material to break down, and anything added has to start at the beginning, thus lengthening the decomposition time for the whole pile.
4 Excess material should be as dry as possible during storage until a new pile is started. Moist stored materials start to decompose and therefore will not be effective in the compost pile.
5 Nothing needs to be added to the organic materials to make them decompose. The micro-organisms active in the decomposition process are ubiquitous where plant materials are found and develop rapidly in any compost pile.
6 Moisture content of materials in the pile should be 50% (like a damp sponge)
7 The pile should be at least 3’x3’x3′ in size.
8 The most rapid decomposing micro-organisms function at about 160 °F, and a bin helps the pile maintain that temperature.
9 The compost pile needs to be turned to prevent it from overheating and to replenish oxygen, else the micro-organisms will be killed and beneficial decomposition will cease. The longer the interval between turning, the longer it will take for the composting to finish.
10 If the procedure is followed properly, a pile will heat to a high temperature within 24-48 hours.
11 Success can be detected by:

  • a pleasant odor,
  • the heat produced (seen as water vapor given off when turning the pile),
  • the growth of white fungi on the decomposing organic material,
  • a reduction of volume, and
  • the materials changing color to dark brown.

As composting nears completion, the temperature drops and, finally, little or no heat is produced. The compost is then ready to use.