BioBag Employee Sharpens the Saw
Sandwiched in between Earth Day last week and International Composting Awareness week next week, I thought it would be perfect timing to conclude the 5 Part Series of Compost Happens – BioBag Employee Sharpens The Saw with, Part 5 – Identifying finished compost and how to apply it correctly.
Now that you are a composting guru from reading Parts 1 – 4 as well as getting hands-on experience with the process which included learning all about composting, identifying compost’s resident creatures, finding the ideal location and assembling your compost pile. I’m also sure you have been adding proportional brown/green organics to it for months, as well as turning the pile and monitoring its progress. So, how can you tell when it is finally ready?
Here are some simple tips that let you know all your hard work, and the efforts of the microbes, have paid off.
Ding! Compost is Done!
The compost should be ready to use after 1 – 12 months, depending on the thoroughness of your management and how finely the pieces of organics were shredded when added to the pile.
The compost pile isn’t generating a substantial amount of heat as it did during the most active cycle.
The material will look dark, will be crumbly, fairly dry and have an earthly odor. You shouldn’t have any recognizable organics.
Where to put It, What to do with it?
Depending on the intended use, the compost can be put through a ½ inch screen before using. The larger particles can be returned to the pile for further decomposition if needed.
Soil Amendment: The compost can be worked into the garden soil adding beneficial nutrients. Do this by adding a layer of 1 – 3 inches. The compost also increases a sandy’s soil ability to retain moisture, improves drainage of clayey soil, increases biological activity of earthworms, reduces the adverse effect of excessive acidity and allows the plant to hold more nutrients for longer periods of time.
Potting Mix: Compost can be blended with perlite, soil, sand and other potting materials to make a great potting mix for your plants.
Mulch: Compost as mulch is extremely valuable because it reduces rainfall runoff, decreases water evaporation loss, helps control weeds and keeps the soil cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather. Apply a 2 – 3 inch layer on the top of soil around trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants.
Compost Tea: “Compost tea” can be used to water your plants, adding the advantageous nutrients from the compost. Fill a burlap bag with compost and place in a barrel of water, then use the water to fertilize and hydrate your plants.
Now, keep up the good work and continue the cycle. Your garden, your wallet and the earth will thank you!
Great idea: Why don’t you take before and after photos of your yard? You’ll be amazed at the drastic difference between the photos. Just for fun, send those to us. We’d love to see them!
If you would like to take a composting class, check out your local county website. My class was put on for FREE by the Florida Cooperative Extensive Service of the University of Florida. There are classes just like this one across the U.S