Once you have started a compost pile, one of the most difficult things is knowing when your compost is ready to use. Unlike gardening where you can see the slow growth and development of plants, composting is a decaying process which can be difficult to track. How can you tell when your compost is ready to use?
According to the University of Florida’s Online Composting Center, compost can take anywhere between one month and a year to be ready. The process varies based on the size of your compost pile and the contents that are breaking down and turning into nutrient-rich soil.
Here are some of the best indicators that will let you know when you can use your compost soil in your yard or garden.
- The pile shrinks to about half of the original size and volume
- When heat composting, the compost pile no longer generates heat
- What you’ve thrown into your compost pile are no longer recognizable
- The compost looks and feels like soil
For more information on composting tips, check out HomElectrical’s Composting Blog on the best things to put in your compost pile.
Tips to Speed Up Your Compost!
For those of you that are interested who are interested in speeding up the process of composting, here are some helpful tips to increase your pile’s productivity.
Turn (down) for what?
One of the easiest ways to speed up the break-down process in a compost pile is turn the pile over once a week. The microbes that fuel the compost process need oxygen, so taking a shovel to your compost pile and stirring the contents up a little will help speed up the process. If you aren’t interested in turning your compost, consider getting an aerator. Aerators will punch holes through your compost and give the microbes oxygen.
Keep it moist
A necessary ingredient in a productive compost pile is water. Keep the compost wet enough (around the same wetness of a damp washcloth) that allows for the best composting environment.
One of the quickest way to accelerate your compost pile’s speed is by shredding every item you use. If you shred it finely, it will break down quicker. This will turn your compost into useable soil within weeks.
According to Cornell University, one of the best things to add to your compost pile to increase the production is worms. They will provide quality nutrients to the future soil and keep the bacteria. They are also great to transfer to your garden when the compost becomes soil.