Can I add fertilizer to my compost pile?

QUESTION: Can I add fertilizer to my compost pile?

ANSWER: Yes, and doing so can be beneficial for your compost if you don’t add too much. Adding fertilizer and minerals to your compost pile allows the organisms in your compost to work their best and helps them produce healthy soil. Fertilizers are needed in compost because the organisms in compost that work to break down your kitchen scraps use up large amounts of nitrogen as well as some potash and phosphorus in the process of breaking down organic materials into compost.

Remember that fertilizer is generally very nitrogen rich, so it will throw your compost out of balance if you don’t have enough carbon rich materials in there.

One way to “cheat” at composting is to collect a large amount of dried leaves in the fall, and sprinkle a nitrogen rich fertilizer on them and water it in. The carbon and nitrogen combination works to break them down faster, if you don’t have enough other nitrogen rich materials available for regular composting.