The best part about cultivating a compost pile is getting to reap the benefits of the finished compost. Compost is so rich in nutrients that it is often referred to as black gold because of the benefits it provides to your plants and soil. Once you have the finished compost, it is important to know how to collect it and put it to best use.
Finished compost is distinguished by its dark, rich color and its ability to crumble easily. If you can still see some of the initial waste products, or the compost is stringy or lumpy, it means it is not yet ready for use! Finished compost also has a very earthy smell. The time it takes to receive the compost varies depending on the type of bin you are using and the materials used, but you can expect it to take anywhere from 3 to 12 months to receive the finished product.
If you have been using a simple compost bin, you can gather the completed compost once the temperature in the pile has stabilized and is no longer hot. If you are using worms to compost, the process is a little more complex. When using a worm bin, you must separate the pile to one side of the bin and add new bedding and food (waste materials) on the other side. Gradually the worms will move from the finished compost to their new food source. Once all the worms are gone, you can remove the compost from the bin and use it.
Compost has several excellent uses in your house and around your yard. You can add it to house plants in a ratio of 7 parts soil to 3 parts compost to 2 parts sand. If you want to use it in your garden, you can replace 25% of your soil with the compost (it is important that you mix it with the existing soil and not replace the soil altogether). Alternatively, you can mulch with your compost by spreading the compost on top of the exposed soil. Over time worms will come and integrate the compost into the soil.
If you have a grassy yard you may want to add compost on top of the grass. The compost will slowly settle into the ground and give you grass that is green and healthy. You can also make compost tea to water your plants. Some compost bins have tea collectors (it is the moisture runoff from the compost) but you can also make your own by adding a shovelful of compost to a bucket of water. Leave it to sit and brew for a few days and the result is a rich “tea” which is an excellent addition to flowers and plants.
When you see how bountiful your garden, yard, and houseplants look after using your finished compost, you will realize why so many people get hooked on turning their waste into this black gold. The benefits of using your finished compost are numerous, and well worth the effort of cultivating the decomposing waste.