“To help compost start, is it ok to put septic tank additives on it?” ~ Don, Chapin sc.
The crucial thing with compost and vermicompost are micro-organisms. This is the little secret to the whole process of composting.
In normal composting systems, microbes are needed to first digest the organic wastes, produced heat, carry on breakdown waste and add nutritional value into it. With vermicomposting, microbes need to start the break down of the waste, and worms comes in to ingest these microbes and the partially broken down organics.
Nature has created a perfect balance and system for composting, and personally I don’t believe any additives is necessary. Most important is to keep all other factors right.
There are 3 types of septic tank additives as I know it (sorry if I am wrong, I am not an expert in septic tank additives!)
1) Chemical based – Inorganic and organic compounds, bleach,
2) Biologically based – Yeast, bacteria and enzymes
In regards to chemical bases additives, why would you want to add chemicals into compost? Would you even dare use it on plants afterwards? Think about the poor worms drowned in bleach.
In regards to biologically based. Also no, because septic tanks are anaerobic systems (there is little or no oxygen) and so the microbes in septic tanks will be very different to the ones in compost. The companies who designed these additives will most probably add things that will benefit these microbes. They also add enzymes designed to break down fats and grease in the scum layer, which are not present in compost.
In composting, the micro-organisms we want to grow are the aerobic ones (oxygen loving) and in vermicomposting we want to grow MORE WORMS!
Nature has created a very perfect system for composting and as long as you keep the carbon:nitrogen ratio healthy, and the compost pile aerated, the compost should be able to take care of itself and compost relatively quickly! Further additives would not enhance the composting speed by much.
If you do insist in adding something or you want to kick start the process, there are specialized composting additives for this purpose.