Now that you know how to compost and got your equipment, it’s time to enjoy the fruits (er compost) of your labor.
When Is Compost Ready?
After about 4 or 5 months your compost should be ready. The easiest way to tell if it’s ready is if what is left doesn’t resemble what it started as. If you can’t recognize a leaf or piece of fruit, then it’s done. It doesn’t have to perfect, it will likely still contain some larger particles and have a coarse texture. But you won’t be able to make out what it is.
It should be dark and resemble soil. It should also be the same temperature as the outdoor air. If it feels too hot it’s not ready yet.
You should let it sit at least three weeks after it appears to be done. If you use it before it’s fully ready it will harm and stunt the growth of your plants.
Not quite ready….
There are many uses for compost, how you use it really depends on what you want to accomplish and how much compost you have. Some common uses:
Sprinkle it around your vegetable garden. This is one of the best ways to use it. It will improve growth and resistance to pests and disease. And you won’t have to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on your food plants.
Prevent weeds, it is great when used for weed prevention. Place a 2” thick layer around plants to prevent weeds from growing. In order to not disturb the plant ecology around the plants just lay the compost like mulch. There’s no need to work it into the soil, the earthworms will take care of that for you.
Improve soil quality. Amend your existing garden soil by mixing in some compost.
Can be used in a container garden as a topping; just water first and then add compost to the soil.
Use worm castings sparingly, just water plants and the sprinkle some on top of the soil.
Liquid compost fertilizer (compost tea); add 10 parts water before using on your plants.
Safety Tips Tor Handling Compost
Compost is relatively safe but since it’s full of so many living organisms, you should take some precautions to be safe.
Wear gloves when handling compost if you have broken skin.
Wash your hands after handling compost.
If your compost is moldy or very dry try not to breath it in. If it’s dry you can wet it before handling.
Making Compost Tea
Compost tea is a diluted liquid version of compost. Like tea the compost is steeped, extracting nutrients into the liquid. Although it won’t contain as many nutrients as solid compost it can still be used to feed plants and help them ward off pests and disease.
Learn how to make compost tea at home.
Check out how to make your own compost bin.