Making your own compost is fantastic. You take all your kitchen scraps and garden waste that would normally just take up space in a landfill, and you turn it into something useful for improving the environment. When making compost for yourself, though, you might find that it's not entirely suitable for your own garden. You might find your compost clumping, or that your compost is too wet to be used.
Ideally, you'll want a fine and crumbly compost texture. In this article, we'll show you what to use to make compost finer so you can easily use the finished compost for your own houseplants and garden. Keep going if you want to learn all about fixing compost texture, or you can click one of the following links to jump ahead in the article:
- What texture should your compost have?
- 6 reasons you are not achieving fine-textured compost
- 5 ways to get fine compost that isn't too wet
- 6 tools and devices you can use to make compost finer
Let's start with what exactly useful compost will look like, so you know what to strive for.
What texture should your compost have?
The ideal texture of finished compost will be fine and crumbly. In fact, it should feel and smell much like soil. There shouldn't be any visible organic waste remaining in the compost bin. If that's not what you have, your compost could be unfinished, or you may need to take extra steps to create useable compost.
We'll go over steps you can take to make finer compost, but we'll first go over the reasons you might not be achieving the texture you're looking for.
6 reasons you are not achieving fine-textured compost
There are a few different reasons your compost piles are turning out poorly. However, there are pretty easy fixes for all these issues. Some of these problems will still even result in useful compost that you just need to through after the fact.
- Compost is too wet - If your compost becomes too wet, you'll get a sludgy texture and compost you can't really use for your plants. This can happen because you've added too much water, too many green materials, or not aerated your compost pile enough.
- It's too dry - On the flip side of wet compost is compost that's too dry, which isn't going to properly break down. Your compost should feel like a damp sponge, so if it doesn't seem that wet, just add some water to it.
- You added too much acidic waste - Although compost will be naturally slightly acidic, too much acidity will make it smell bad and the compost won't decompose as well. This can happen when you add too many green materials, or even just too much acidic waste (such as citrus peels).
- Plants started growing - You might also find plant growth in your compost bin. This can happen when weed seeds and plant seeds aren't killed by the heat in the compost pile. If this happens, you can just pull the weeds or plants out to stop them from growing.
- There isn't enough air - Proper aeration is necessary for the microorganisms in the compost bin to do their work. Without it, the compost pile won't decompose. Turn compost and keep it moist to ensure appropriate aeration.
- Waste chunks are too large - You can break down compost faster by having smaller waste chunks in your compost bin. Larger kitchen scraps won't break down as quickly as the rest, meaning you'll be left with some chunks in your compost. However, you can sift your compost to remove the large pieces left over.
5 ways to get fine compost that isn’t too wet
So, the goal is to get fine homemade compost for your vegetable garden or your indoor plants. Unfortunately, some of the methods you might try to achieve finer compost can also result in wet compost.
For example, cutting up absolutely all of your waste into tiny bits is more likely to result in soupy compost. While cutting up large chunks is good, you should also keep the following tips in mind:
1. Try an electric kitchen composter
The easiest way to get perfect compost every time is with an electric compost bin. Electric composters actually offer a ton of benefits over traditional compost bins.
For one, an electric composter makes composting an effortless process. All you need to do is throw your food waste into the bin throughout the day, and then push a button. After some time, it will have fully decomposed your organic materials without requiring anything from you.
If you want to know how to get compost to break down faster, the answer is an electric composter. With Lomi, you can get fine, nutrient-rich dirt ready to be used in your vegetable garden in as early as 16 hours. Compared to traditional compost, which normally takes many months to create finished compost, Lomi is the superior option.
2. Keep the right ratio of green and brown materials
With a traditional compost pile, you can't just throw in whatever food scraps and expect quality compost at the end. When making compost, you need to be careful to have the right amount of green materials compared to brown materials. For backyard compost bins, equal parts of brown to green materials is good to aim for.
Green matter is rich in nitrogen, while brown matter is rich in carbon. Your compost heap needs a good mix of both to decompose well. Green material is going to be stuff like your food waste, fresh grass clippings, and coffee grounds. On the other hand, brown material comes from wood chips, pine needles, and other old and dry yard waste.
3. Use a sifter or a screen
The composting process will sometimes result in good, usable compost being mixed with larger chunks of food waste or yard waste that has yet to decompose. In that case, you can separate the high-quality compost from the remaining organic materials.
The easiest way to separate decomposed compost from organic material is to sift compost. Compost sifting can be done using a compost sifter, also known as a compost screen. It goes by either name because the process involves sieving compost through a fine-mesh screen. Fine screened compost is actually beneficial for reasons beyond removing unwanted waste - it breaks down clumpy compost and aerates it, resulting in higher-quality compost.
4. Get a compost grinder
Much of the brown materials you'll want to include in your compost bins will be too large to throw in right away. While you can manually chop up the waste, it's much quicker and easier to get a compost grinder. This will make adding large quantities of materials like wood chips and dead branches more viable.
5. DIY compost sifter: build your own!
As compost screens are so useful, we would highly suggest building your own if it's not within your budget to buy some. Building a compost sifter is a quick and easy process that anyone can do! If you want to ensure you get great compost every time, a compost sifter is a must!
Check out these 3 resources for detailed instructions on how to make your own compost screen:
- How to Make a Compost Sifter (and why you should): Watching someone else build something always makes it easier to do it yourself. Joe provides easy-to-follow instructions and visuals on how to build the sifter and how to sift compost.
- DIY Compost Sifter: Alecia's instructions are clear and include helpful images to show what the sifter should look like. She also provides tips for extra ways to use your compost screens!
- Easy DIY Compost Sifter Plans And Sifting Compost Tips: For those of you without much DIY experience, this is the article for you. Kim lays out super detailed instructions in her article, so even DIY beginners won't have any trouble with this one.
6 tools & devices you can use to make compost finer
Now that you know the different methods to create rich and fine compost, let's check out the tools and devices that will make your job easier.
If you want fine, nutrient-rich dirt without having to work for it at all, Lomi is the way to go. All you need to do is place your food waste into Lomi (you don't even need to worry about ratios at all), set it to your preferred setting, then push a button! It really doesn't get any simpler than Lomi.
The best part about Lomi is just how quickly it breaks down your waste. In only 16-20 hours, you'll have high-quality dirt ready to enhance your garden and house plants. With a composting process that quick, you'll be guaranteed a regular and consistent supply of usable dirt.
Why we recommend it: There isn't any easier or quicker way to compost your food scraps. If you don't care to use the dirt, you can even have your organic waste decomposed in just a few hours.
Who should buy it: Anyone who has little time or energy to deal with traditional compost bins. Lomi is also the perfect size for anyone living in an apartment or an equally small space.
This handheld garden sifter by Raw Rutes is a veresatile tool for any gardener. Not only is it ideal for sifting compost, but it can be used for a variety of gardening tasks. This durable screen will help you clear rocks and clumps from your soil, and smooth out your clumpy compost.
Why we recommend it: The size of this compost screen is small enough to be comfortably used by one person, while being large enough to efficiently sieve compost. As a bonus, the wooden frame it's made of ensures it will also be compostable at the end of its life.
Who should buy it: Anyone maintaining a garden who will want to a few shovels full of good compost while taking care of their plants. This is ideal for smaller gardens and indoor plants.
This garden sifter is much life the above sifter, except this one is larger and specifically designed to be used with wheelbarrows. Even when you're not using a wheelbarrow, the curved and extended handles of this screen make it comfortable to hold.
Why we recommend it: This sifter's design makes is a quick and simple way to sift compost in combination with a wheelbarrow. Being made of the same materials as the other sifter, this one will also be compostable at the end of its life.
Who should buy it: Anyone maintaining a garden that will need to work with large quantities of sifted compost. This sifter is ideal for those with larger gardens.
Miracle-Gro's small compost tumbler makes the composting process easier and accessible to those without much of a yard to work with. The size of this compost bin makes it suitable for either indoor or outdoor composting.
The tumbler makes composting easier by creating ideal conditions for your compost pile. It also provides you with a handle on the side of the compost bin so you can turn the compost effortlessly.
Why we recommend it: The aeration system in the Miracle-Gro compost bin means you can expect usable compost in only 4 to 6 weeks. This is a much quicker process than traditional compost piles!
Who should buy it: People who want an easier and quicker composting process, but don't need a constant supply of dirt. The compost tumbler is also ideal for anyone needing to compost indoors.
Anyone with a bunch of trees in their yard can tell you just how many dead leaves they have at their disposal. Those dead leaves make great brown materials for your compost heap, though! But, it wouldn't be ideal to just throw the full, intact leaves in the pile. Instead, cutting them up will make sure your compost breaks down evenly.
Now, you can absolutely use your hands or some handheld tools to break up those leaves. You could even try running them over with your lawnmower a bunch. Either option will take lots of time, and the lawnmower method will be hard to clean up after. If you plan on adding a bunch of dead leaves to your compost, it'll be far more efficient to just use a leaf mulcher.
Why we recommend it: The WORX leaf mulcher is both effective and light enough to make it easy to move it around. You can also attach a bag right to it for mess-free mulching.
Who should buy it: Anybody with a yard full of dead leaves who intends to regularly add them to their compost bin.
Just as yards with dead leaves can use a leaf mulcher, yards covered in sticks can use a wood chipper. Those dead sticks make great brown matter for your compost, but you really need to break them down before throwing them in the pile.
Once again, this can be done by hand, but it really is so much easier to use a wood chipper. If this is something you need to do a lot of, the investment is worth it!
Why we recommend it: The Lnadworks wood chipper is electric, so you're not going to be using gas while being eco-friendly. This wood chipper is also easy to use and won't make a mess!
Who should buy it: Anyone who has a consistent supply of sticks in their yard that they'd like to use for their compost bin.
Traditional composting isn't always easy, so there's no shame in investing in tools and devices that will make this eco-friendly practice more accessible to you. You can easily order your Lomi today and start effortlessly composting your kitchen scraps. While waiting for your Lomi to arrive, you can read more about composting and waste reduction on our blog!
Written by: Sereana Simpson