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Compost accelerators, compost starters and compost activators are all terms used for products that are added to the compost pile to make better compost and to make composting faster. What is the difference between these terms? Are they required for composting, and how much faster is the composting process if you use them?

compost accelerators, compost starts, compost activators, compost boosters

Compost Accelerators, Starters and Activators

Compost Accelerators, Starters and Activators

Let’s first try to understand the different terms. I spent some time looking for definitions of these terms and looked at a lot of products that use the terms. My conclusion is that the terms are used interchangeably, or they are used incorrectly a lot of the time. I could not find clear definitions for any of the terms.

However, products being sold under these terms do not all contain the same ingredients. Bottom line, I think it is best to ignore the terms, and look at the ingredients in the box which is what I will do in this article. I’ll discuss the ingredients instead of looking at accelerators, starters and activators.

How do you find out what the ingredients are in a certain product? Simple, right – look at the label. Wrong. Almost none of these products list their ingredients. They might say something like “contains bacteria” but they never say which ones or how much. They might also mention fertilizer – but they never give details. This lack of information should be a big red warning sign – DO NOT BUY!

Microbial Inoculant and Soil Inoculant

Microbial inoculants and soil inoculants contain microbes. We all know that microbes are responsible for the composting process and so it seems to make sense that we should add some at the start of the process to speed it up.

All of the organic matter you add to the compost pile is covered with huge amounts of bacteria and fungi spores. You can’t see them, but they are there. It makes no sense to go out and buy some more to add to the pile. Don’t believe claims that microbe inoculants will speed up the process.

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The other thing to understand about composting is that it is a very dynamic process—I discussed this in Compost Microbes – Good For The Soil. As the compost pile warms up, the microbe populations change. As water levels change, so do the microbe populations. If the environmental conditions are favorable for a certain microbe, it will find the compost pile and it will prosper. They are everywhere. And if you add microbes that don’t like the current conditions they will die. Purchased microbes may already be dead when you buy them, or they might die as soon as you add them – you have no way of knowing.

Lime and pH Balancers

Many composting recipes advise you to add lime, which will raise the pH of the compost. Some products claim that they include ‘pH balancers’ and or lime.

How important is it to keep a correct pH?

To better understand this, lets look at the changes in pH as the composting process proceeds.

The initial pH of garbage, yard clippings and manure will have a pH of between 5 and 7. Manure tends to be at the upper end of this rage, close to 7, and woody products (woody stems, paper) tend to be more acidic. So the starting pH depends on what goes into the pile. All of these things will compost, so starting pH does not seem to be that important.

Soil Science for Gardeners book by Robert Pavlis

In the first few days of composting, acids are produced and these will lower the pH to about 5. Some scientists have suggested that this early acidic phase may be very important for killing pathogens, so adding lime may actually prevent the killing of pathogens.

As composting proceeds, the pH will slowly increase to a final pH of about 7 to 7.5.

The composting process manages its own pH and it does not need our help to adjust the pH during the process. The microbes will adjust their populations to match the pH for us.

Secondly, since most finished compost is neutral or slightly alkaline, it makes no sense to add lime to the process—it will only make your finished compost more alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH below 7. Excess lime will also release more ammonia, and you want to keep as much of the nitrogen in the compost as you can.

Building Natural Ponds book, by Robert Pavlis

Bottom line—don’t worry about the pH, don’t add pH balancers, and don’t add lime.


The only reason to add fertilizer to a compost pile is to help feed the microbes. They certainly don’t need more phosphorus and potassium, but if your compost pile ingredients are mostly browns (see How to Compost – Browns & Greens), there will be a deficiency of nitrogen. Adding more nitrogen will speed up composting.

Good nitrogen sources include Urea, blood meal, grass clippings and alfalfa meal. These are much better for the compost pile than compost accelerators, compost starters and compost activators – and cheaper!

Energy Source

Some products claim to contain an ‘energy source’. I guess they think you need this extra energy to wake up the microbes so they will do their job. What these manufacturers fail to realize is that almost everything in the compost pile is an ‘energy source’ for microbes.

Some people talk about adding sugar, molasses, or milk for the same reason. Adding food that has spoiled can certainly be composted—there is no problem adding these items. But they are not needed to make compost nor do they speed up the composting process to any great degree. And I think that adding good food to a compost pile is environmentally irresponsible – donate it to someone who does not have enough to eat.


A number of web sites recommend adding worms to a compost pile—they are wrong. There is a composting process call vermicomposting, or worm composting, that uses worms, but that is a completely different process than using a compost pile. A compost pile gets hot and will fry the worms. Actually, the worms are smart enough to leave as the pile gets too hot.

You might see worms in the finished compost, but that is because they have moved into the pile near the end of the composting process.

Handful of Soil

Earlier in this post I said that you do not need to add a commercial source of microbes, because they are already on the ingredients. If you think that your plant refuge might be too clean—its not—then feel free to add some soil into the compost pile. The soil will add more microbes and costs you nothing.

The soil is not needed, but will not harm the composting process. If it makes you feel good, add a handful or two of soil.

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Compost Accelerators, Starters and Activators

I am amazed at how many such products exist—hundreds of different brands. I am even more amazed that many provide no information about their ingredients. Nor do they provide any kind of test results to show that their products actually work. But people must be buying them!

The reality is that composting happens in nature once microbes and organic matter meet. A compost pile provides the mass to produce good heat to speed up the process along, but composting happens even without a pile.

In a future post I’ll look at ways to speed up the process.

Adding compost accelerators, compost starters, compost activators, compost boosters etc, is a waste of money and resources.


1) Photo Source: SKS Bottle & Packaging Inc

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This entry is filed under composting, Plant Care, Soil and tagged compost accelerator, compost booster, compost starter.

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Compost at lowes

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Compost Soil & Soil Amendments at Lowes.com

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5 hours ago Bumper Crop Compost. This 2 cubit feet bag of Bumper Crop Compost (also called Organic Soil Amendment) is a soil-building blend of manure and high organic nutrient content of shellfish compost, dark, rich earthworm castings, kelp, peat, aged bark, and lobster. The lobster body provides nitrogen, and the shells breakdown to release a calcium


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1 hours ago Re: Cow manure compost from Lowes. « Reply #10 on: April 23, 2010, 09:04:24 AM ». We just finished 9 raised beds and used 4 bags of the Lowes Composed Manure in each 42"x85" bed. Found it well composted dark rich soil. For $1.19 per 40# bag we are pleased.


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Compost Soils Landscaping Supplies The Home …

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Where To Buy Compost Tips For Finding The Good Stuff

7 hours ago First of all, pricing varies dramatically. For bags of compost, you could pay anywhere between $0.30 and $20+ per 10lbs (0.2 cubic feet). For bulk compost, you could pay $10-150+ per cubic yard (27 cubic feet). But even with these wide ranges, if you do the math, buying compost by the cubic yard is waaaaay less expensive than buying it in bags.


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9 hours ago Why You Shouldn’t Buy Mulch at Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart. Spring is here, and if you utilize mulch in your gardens, flower beds and other areas throughout your property, this is the time of year when you’re getting ready to replace the material. As mulch decomposes, it helps to nourish the soil, but in order for it to continue working to


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2 hours ago Duro Bags 50 Gallon Paper Compost Bag Duro Bags is also a pretty good brand that has pretty much the same standing as Lowe's. Like Lowe's, it is able to stand upright, making it convenient for gardeners. One of the best things about this product …


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Premier 28.3L Ultra Composted Cattle Manure Lowe's Canada

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How to Use a home composting bin with Lowe's « Eco

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Sims 40 lbs. Mushroom Compost17904 The Home Depot

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Where Can I Purchase Mushroom Compost for My Garden

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Permagreen 1.5 cu. ft. PRO Mushroom Compost BlendMRC

9 hours ago Permagreen PRO Mushroom Compost is a 100% organic soil amendment. The other brands out there are using the spent compost that mushrooms have been grown in. They contain salt residues from the chemicals fed the mushrooms. Permagreen PRO Mushroom Compost is a blend of composts, wheat straw, Sphagnum Peat, and pearlite.


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2 hours ago This compost spreader works best when the compost is drier (under 30% moisture content) and thinner. It can also be utilized for other material such as clay, peat moss, and other dry bagged material. We also love the Seymour because it’s a quality product made in the USA.


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Warning about Lowes Topsoil Houzz

9 hours ago All Lowes topsoil is not made in one place and shipped all over the country. It's made by regional vendors and put into Lowes bags. Probably Lowes has some kind of basic minimal standards for % soil, % organics, what type of organics, max sieve size, etc. But there is a lot of room for variation within those specs.


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Height (in): 9.32

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23 Ingenious DIY Compost Bin Ideas Backyard Growers

3 hours ago Wanna see some really cool DIY compost bin ideas?. We picked out 23 of our favorite compost bin ideas for you to try out. We have everything from building a compost bin from pallets, building a DIY compost tumbler, to building a garbage can compost bin.. There are some really, really cool ideas on this page but…. First things first…


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6 hours ago How to Backyard Compost 1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. 2. Chop and shred brown and green materials into small pieces. 3. Cover the composting area with a 6-inch layer of brown materials. 4. Add a 3-inch layer of green materials and a little soil or finished compost. 5. Lightly mix the two layers above.


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3 hours ago 03 How To: COMPOST USING COMPOST 01 Use compost as potting soil for plants, mulch around flower beds, base soil for vegetable gardens, or as topsoil or amendment when planting a new tree. 02 Save unused compost in an airtight container for spring or fall. Alternatively, premix it with soil for ready-use.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where to find organic compost?

Finding Organic Compost Buy small amounts of compost from a local nursery or garden center. If you’re just shopping for your home garden, a local nursery or garden center is a good option. Get large amounts of compost from a landscape or compost supplier.

What is the best compost for growing vegetables?

The best manure for gardens is properly composted manure. It’s often called black gold, especially when it contains cow manure.

Can you buy compost?

You can buy compost by the bag at garden centers, but if your garden is sizable, buying enough to support your garden might drive you to financial ruin. Plus, you never really know the sources of the bagged compost you buy or that from your local municipal facility. Eventually,...

What is the best compost for raised beds?

Leaf crops such as lettuce, greens and spinach thrive in raised beds. Purdue University recommends commercial or home mixes of vermiculite or perlite mixed with organic matter as a quick-draining garden media.

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Compost accelerators can give your compost pile a kick start. They aren’t required for composting – nature will facilitate the natural decay of organic material, but they do serve a purpose in getting those beneficial bacteria started. But which compost accelerator is best? That’s what we’re going to explore here.

Top Compost Accelerators:

  • Compost-It Compost Accelerator
  • Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter
  • Jobe’s Organics Compost Starter
  • Roebic Laboratories Bacterial Compost Accelerator
  • Ringer Compost Plus

Let’s look at what compost starters have to offer, how you can even make your own if you want to, and why each of these was selected as a top choice.

In A Hurry? Here’s Our Top Pick (Links To Amazon below):

Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter (Check the latest pricing on Amazon)

Why Is This Our Top Pick?

Simply put, Espoma is transparent about the product and its use. They offer a pure (100%) bio-organic mix containing billions of beneficial microbes to speed up the decomposition of your compost pile. Espoma also includes important pH balancers.

Before we delve into the gritty details on each of these, let’s first outline what a compost accelerator really is and how you can make your own if you prefer to go the DIY route.

What Is A Compost Accelerator?

Compost accelerators, also known as compost “starters” or “activators”, essentially contain fungi and bacteria that are aimed at getting the decomposition process underway. There is a lot of biological activity that takes place during the composting process (source). It’s more than leaves and grass clippings just “dying”. Deep at the microscopic level, bacteria are working around the clock to decompose the organic material.

At the visual level, we also often see worms, grubs, termites, or other small creatures doing their part to move nature’s process along. But it begins at a level that we can’t see with the naked eye and this is where compost accelerators are designed to come in.

If we push past all of the marketing hype, there is value in adding beneficial bacteria into the compost pile early. And while each of the products we’ll discuss in this article have their advantages, you do have another option…

How To Make Your Own Compost Accelerator

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of a compost activator but aren’t crazy about investing in a commercial product, you can make your own compost accelerator.

One solution is to simply add finished compost into the new pile. It will introduce the bacteria needed to jump-start the composting process. If you have finished compost or a pile that is near completion, take a couple of shovels full and spread it into your new pile. This will help to get the decomposition process going.

Garden soil is another alternative to commercial compost activators. Soil that has been amended and grown in for years can be filled with microscopic helpers that are all too eager to help you break down your fresh compost pile. Just be mindful that if you are using pesticides in your garden those will have likely soaked into the soil so you are better off doing this with organic gardening soil.

If you don’t have finished compost or garden soil, however, a quality compost accelerator can help to get that decomposition process started. Let’s look at our top picks one by one.

The Top Compost Accelerators – In-Depth

Compost-It Compost Accelerator

Manufactured by Biomaster, Compost-It contains over 60 active ingredients and is suitable for just about any type of composting project. It’s an organic formula, free of chemicals and produced in Australia.

Click Here For Latest Pricing (Link To Amazon).

Below is a video from the manufacturer outlining the benefits of this product and includes some tips on how to use it.

Top Pick – Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter

Touting billions of microbes ready to go to work decomposing your kitchen waste, Espoma’s compost starter is a 100% bio-organic mixture that is aimed at helping break down organic materials that are usually slow and difficult to compost.

Click Here To Check The Latest Pricing(Link To Amazon)

The company recommends applying the product over an initial layer of organic material and then continuing to layer organic material as you would in any lasagna-approach composting project. Keep the pile moist as you normally would to help the microbes activate.

Jobe’s Organics Compost Starter

compost acclerator

Jobe’s is a brand name that garners trust with many gardeners and for good reason. With over 200 products on the market and a long history, Jobe’s has earned a place in many gardens. The Jobe’s Organics Compost Starter (link to Amazon) comes in granular form and contains their proprietary BIozome formula, a mixture of fungi, bacteria, and Archaea.

This formula is incorporated into many of their products including the compost starter. You can read more about Biozome on Jobe’s website. One thing that I should mention that I do find attractive about this product is that it is usually one of the lowest-cost compost accelerators out there.

Roebic Laboratories Bacterial Compost Accelerator

Roebic Laboratories offers a granular compost accelerator that is rich in magnesium and calcium as well as nitrogen-rich nutrients to encourage the thriving growth of beneficial bacteria.

Check Pricing For Roebic Laboratories Bacterial Compost Accelerator (Amazon Link)

Ringer Compost Plus

Taking advantage of thermophilic organisms that are known to thrive in higher temperatures, Ringer Compost Plus (link to Amazon) is a blend of microorganisms and nutrients designed to kickstart the decomposition process in your compost pile. The manufacturer, Safer Brands, claims that their 2lb package is enough for up to 750lb of yard waste composting (source). That’s a lot of compost.


In the end, you really aren’t going to go wrong with any of these. Remember that you probably don’t need a compost accelerator in the first place and if you do, you do have the option of making your own. That said, if you are looking for a quality compost activator, I would go with Espoma Organic Traditions Compost Starter (Link to Amazon). I like their transparency and that they use a 100% bio-organic mix. Other products may use very similar but they aren’t always as clear about it and I think that’s what sets Espoma apart from the rest for me.

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Sours: https://thrivingyard.com/recommended/composting-products-turn-kitchen-waste-into-soil/compost-starters/
How to Make Compost

Compost Starters (This is what you Need to Know!)

Confused about compost starters ?

I certainly was when I first heard about them.

When you begin composting, you might notice after a few weeks that your compost doesn’t seem to be turning into “compost” ! So you get frustrated and start looking for solutions to “speed up” your organic rotting experiment.

This is when you come across the idea of using some kind of catalyst to make compost faster.

Everything I’ve learned about composting says that if you get the balance of ingredients right in your compost pile, the decomposition process should work well. So why would you need a compost “starter” or “activator” to “get things going” ?

In this article I’ll clarify some common questions about “starters” and help you figure out what you can really do to get your compost to rot properly!

What is a Compost Starter ?

As the name suggests, a compost starter is an additive that you combine with other organic matter in your compost bin to help begin the composting process.

The key thing to remember is that compost is the result of natural decomposition.

Decomposition occurs thanks to the hard work of billions of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, and to a certain extent, larger creatures like earthworms and other insects.

Given enough time anything organic will eventually rot. But if you want things to happen quicker, you need to correctly balance the four main composting ingredients (green materials, brown matter, water, and oxygen).

brown and green compost ingredients

The aim is to try to create the best possible conditions for the microbial activity to develop quickly and let the microbes do their work.

This is where things get tricky!

For most of us, balancing nitrogen rich “green” materials and carbon rich “brown” materials is not easy.

green to brown balance in compost

As a quick reminder, green materials are things like grass clippings, kitchen scraps or green leaf prunnings. Brown matter tends to be drier things such as twigs, branches, or dried leaves.

At different times of the year we either have too many or too little of each type of ingredient.

But it's the lack of nitrogen rich materials which can slow down the rotting process.

Nitrogen rich greens are the high-energy food that bacteria need during the composting process. Without enough nitrogen they simply can’t do their job.

This is what usually leads to the need for a compost activator of some kind. Most of the time, these activators are rich in nitrogen, and adding them to your compost is a way of feeding the bacteria and at the same time restoring balance.

Another common fear is a lack of microbial diversity in a new pile. In reality all the organic matter you put in your bin is already teaming with millions of bacteria. But it has become common practice among gardeners to incorporate additional microbes into the mix. Supplementing bacteria in this way is known as inoculation.

Do you Need a Compost Starter ?

The bottom line is this:

If you achieve the right balance of greens and browns then a compost starter isn’t essential. However, if you struggle to create a balanced mixture of organic matter, air and water, an activator can be particularly helpful.

Below I'll go over the different types of starters you can use to help get things cooking !

What’s the Best Compost Starter ?

Compost starters come in a variety of different types. Some of these are commercial products, some are natural and easy to find, and a few garders swear by their own homemade formulas.

Artificial Activators

These products are often called things like “super hot compost activators” or “compost boosters”. Some of them contain nitrogen rich ingredients, and others include inert bacteria which activates inside the compost pile. A few of them combine a bit of both.

I’ve also seen products which seem to be nothing more than nitrogen rich fertilizer.

Frankly I wouldn't bother using them.

It’s difficult to know exactly what many of these products contain and they are relatively expensive. There are plenty of alternatives you can try before using this kind of activator.

Compost Inoculants (Bacteria)

compost inoculant

Compost inoculation is the idea of adding bacteria to kick-start the microbial population in your compost bin.

The best type of inoculant you can use is finished compost ! If you have some ripe compost left over from another pile, simply sprinkle a thin layer of compost on top of every 12 inches of new organic material. This will add a bunch of microorganisms and maybe a few insects and worms as well.

And it’s free…

However, if you're just starting out you may not yet have any spare compost. If this is the case you can add top soil in the same way and get many of the same benefits.

Although perhaps not as rich in nutrients as finished compost, soil also contains a mass of microbes (and if you’re lucky a few worms) and can be used to inoculate your pile.

Natural Compost Starters

There are many substances which are naturally high in nitrogen and can be added as a way of feeding composting microbes.

Manure is probably one of the most commonly used starters and is easily available in rural areas. If you do source manure from a local farmer try to avoid manure that is too fresh because this may cause excessive bacterial activity in your compost bin and harm the beneficial microbes in the compost. Fresh manure also has a high water content so it’s best to leave it to dry a while before adding it to the pile (otherwise you unbalance the moisture content in your compost).

If you’re not in a rural area, you can still find alternative manure products, usually in the form of pellets - this organic chicken manure is a good example (links to Amazon).

Certain powdered products or “meals” can also be incorporated thanks to their high nitrogen levels. Bone meal & blood meal are commonly used in gardening as fertilizer, and they add a good dose of nitrogen.

Blood meal in particular has a very high nitrogen level. This is one of the solutions I prefer for my own compost - See this organic option (you can even compost the box!)

These dry powders don’t have a strong smell and are easy to handle.

If you don’t like using animal products and prefer a more vegetarian alternative you can try alfalfa meal or soybean meal (links to Amazon). They have a pleasant smell and are relatively easy to find. They also contain some phosphorus and potassium which are essential elements for plant growth.

All of these powdered by-products can simply be sprinkled over fresh organic matter every 6 inches or so. Add a little water to each layer.

A quick note about coffee grounds. Although rich in nitrogen they are probably best avoided as an activator. Coffee has antibacterial properties which can interfere with microbial activity. I avoid using coffee grounds in my compost.

DIY Compost Starters

Some enthusiastic gardeners also make their own concoctions to be used as compost activators. A typical set of ingredients includes the following:

  • A gallon or two of water
  • One small bottle of beer
  • Half a cup of ammonia
  • One can of sugary soda (not diet)

You can mix all the ingredients together in a bucket and use a watering can to wet fresh composting materials. There’s not a lot of hard science about the efficiency of this kind of mixture, but the theory behind it is as follows...

The beer contains yeast which is a form of fungi. The fungi that would otherwise naturally develop in a compost pile helps to break down the tougher brown materials like branches or corn stalks. So I guess the brewers yeast is intended to help break down the dryer carbon content in the compost pile.

Ammonia, which is sometimes used in gardening to help alkaline loving plants, is very high in nitrogen.

The soda has a very high sugar content. The idea is that sugar provides an easy source of food for the beneficial bacteria and gets the microbial population off to a good start. I haven’t found much evidence that sugar is useful to composting bacteria, but it has been shown (with varying results) that molasses can increase microbes in soil when used as an amendment.

If you fancy giving this kind of compost starter recipe and try then it probably won’t do much harm.

But if you ask me, it’s a waste of good beer !

Using Compost Starters (Conclusion)

I’ve often read that compost starters and activators are a “vital element” to any compost. To cite the well known composter Stu Campbell:

“trying to make good compost without an activator is like trying to make concrete without cement”.

Most of us are in a hurry to get good compost as soon as possible. In my opinion, using starters is good advice and certainly can’t do any harm. My own solution at the moment is to use a sprinkling of finished compost (or soil) and a few handfuls of blood meal, approximately every 6 inches or so…

Sours: https://helpmecompost.com/compost-starters-this-is-what-you-need-to-know/

Compost starter lowes

I sat, finished my coffee, I felt good - I experienced a storm of emotions during the evening, I could control the woman's behavior in the way I needed. Well, the fact that she fell asleep so treacherously - well, it happens, I thought. And on top of that - I still got satisfaction.

All the same, it turned out cool, I grinned. Getting ready to leave, I remembered that their door can only be locked with a key, and it cannot be closed automatically.

How To Make Compost At Home (WITH FULL UPDATES)

Just right, come on, drink to the bottom, drink to the bottom, drink to the bottom. - Fu, what a disgusting thing. Plus a full glass. - Do you know, Alyonochka, but I like your bed.

Now discussing:

My pants moved, but I myself remained motionless. There is something in this when a helpless, defenseless woman offers herself to you. Shows that you can take and own it. At the level of the mind, it is wild, but it excites the ancient strings deep in the subconscious: You are mine.

Not only in body, soul.

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