Mostly Finished Compost?

Pd0xGard_June 16, 2014

I've been composting for a couple years now, never really going full bore into it. I've had a pile 3 x 3 by maybe almost 2 ft, ish, never getting too close to 3 x 3 x 3, but I have had a few times where I've been able to get it to heat up to around 145-150F.

It's very dark, and mostly unrecognizable. I frequently add coffee grounds/filters, and vege/fruit scraps mostly, and there are those bits that I just added recently that are easily seen.

I've been dying to actually start using this as a soil amendment, or as a mulch for my pumpkin plants (and others).

Since I'm never really able to get it to 3 x 3 x 3, how should I proceed? I know using unfinished compost isn't really the best idea, but when *can* I use this? Right now the pile is 3 x 3 x 1.5 or so. It doesn't really heat up too much above ambient, maybe 10F above or so at any given time. Should I totally stop adding anything at all to it and give it time to "cure"? If so, when could I use it then? (How do I cure it exactly also)

Just not sure how to proceed, was hoping to be able to put some down around my pumpkins and see if it gives them a boost.

I know I've asked a lot! Sorry! and thanks!

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The 3 x 3 x 3 thing is a broad rule of thumb for generating and holding heat, and heat is for people who want compost now and donâÂÂt want to wait too long. This is often a result of wanting to fix some problem when thereâÂÂs no stock of the stuff sitting idly by.

If youâÂÂve been letting this work for two years then it is time for another pile. Sift it and toss the lumps into the next batch. ThereâÂÂs very little thatâÂÂs critical about most composts, and if youâÂÂre going to mulch with it, thereâÂÂs nothing critical. If itâÂÂs mild and smells of nothing but earth, consider it âÂÂreadyâÂÂ.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:17AM
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If you want to add this as a soil amendment, something worked into the soil before planting, it will need more time to finish being digested. Compost used as a soil amendment should not have any recognizable original material in it and can cause that temporary Nitrogen tie up we hear about so often.
However, unfinished compost can be used as a mulch, something laid on top of the soil and not worked in. Sifting is a lot of work and is not necessary.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 6:32AM
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I believe cold weather is right,use most of it or as much as you need now. Seperate recconizable material and clumps and start a new bin with it. If you have good looking compost left over,set it aside then dampen and turn if it isn't used in 2 or 3 months. I would think you have soil which can benifit from mixing surplus compot in rather than holding it. Most important is to apply common sense and reasoning to what others tell you. In this case,consider that many people bury material in their garden without composting at all. All of them report good results and have no complaints about N deficeny and such. Would that not indicate useing material that has 70% composted is an option? Don't let yourself be overwhelmed by details,truth be known,it's difficult to mess things up unless one gos out of their way.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:55AM
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