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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Compost Should Finish Its Cycle before Application

Q. How do I know when compost is safe to apply to plants? Do I measure temperature?

A. Compost is safe to apply when the composting process has completed. Look and smell a compost to see if it is finished. A finished compost will have the same color throughout and the components are not recognizable. Everything looks the same.
Finished compost should have a dark color, the color should be consistent through the compost and the components used tof composting are not distinguishable. 

Commercial compost is safe to apply any time it has finished the composting cycle. Most commercial compost is never sold or marketed before it is finished. The components of a compost will eventually break down and supply nutrients to plants separately but there are some problems doing it this way.

Composting is the same process used by Mother Nature when things “rot”. But in composting, this rotting process is sped up and managed. If you are making your own compost, it is probably a good idea to purchase a compost thermometer.

The type of composting I would use is pile composting. This method mixes all the components together and puts it in a moist pile. The fastest way to get a finished compost using this method is by turning this pile or aerating it when the core of the compost reaches 160° F and wetting it down.

A slower method is the static pile composting method where the pile is never turned. There are much fancier ways of making compost like using forced air or in-vessel composting which can finish compost extremely fast.

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