You’ve waited for what seems like eternity (3 to 6 months), and you’re wondering if your compost is ready to be used on plants. But how can you tell?
It’s really simple. Here are the signs:
- The pile smells like soil (or earthy). Do note that a smelly pile is a bad sign! Find out why here. If your pile is odourless, it probably means that it is inactive. Add more ‘greens‘ or water to start the composting process, because inactive piles are caused by lack of moisture.
- The pile is cool to the touch. This means that the microorganisms in the pile has finished composting everything there is to compost, and are not working anymore. An active pile is usually warm to the touch, especially in the center.
- The pile simply looks brown and crumbly (or lumpy). This is good because all your food scraps have been broken down into soil and nutrients. You shouldn’t be able to distinguish your food scraps anymore, such as potato peelings, carrot tops, tissue paper etc. However, egg shells and hair are normal because they take much longer to break down. You can either leave them in the pile to further compost, or add them directly to plants. They provide special nutrients to your plants.
In essence, once your compost has turned into a crumbly, dark material, resembling thick, moist soil and gives off an earthy, fresh aroma, you know it’s ready to use. Don’t worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshell – this is perfectly normal.
Do note that if you have been layering new material on top of old material, your completed compost would be found near the bottom of the bin. The material near the top will require more time to finish composting. (Wonder what this means? Click here.)
So, is your compost ready? If it is, congratulations! Nothing beats the sense of satisfaction and achievement to have been able to turn your unwanted food scraps into yummy “black gold” for your plants. Your plants will LOVE you for it!
If it isn’t, you’ll probably need to wait a little while longer. Click here for some ways to speed up the composting process.
Can’t wait to remove and use your compost? Here is a quick and easy way to do it – with minimal fuss, and mess-free.
Haven’t got your own compost bin, and interested to start one of your own? Wait no longer, clear and simple directions are right here!