We’ve been talking a lot about compost and how to take care of it… but what’s the point? What’s the end goal?
Dirt! Beautiful, crumbly, healthy dirt. Why buy compost from the garden store if you can turn your trash into compost for free? Compost gives essential nutrients to a home garden, and you’d be surprised how many listings there are for compost on Craigslist! I suppose if you have an excess amount of compost, you can always sell it or give it away, too! Many times you can mix compost with the dirt already in your back (or front) yard to create a healthy environment for fruits, veggies, flowers, herbs, anything! You may want to test the pH level of your dirt before getting started to know what you’re working with and talk to someone at your local garden store about how to balance the pH level for what you want to grow. I would suggest going to a specialty store for answering those types of questions as they are more likely to have answers for you than a big-box store like Home Depot. Or, if you’re like me, I just figured the first year I wouldn’t grow much of anything and trial an error was going to be my way to learn.
So, how do you know when your compost is ready to use? Here’s a few things to watch for:
- It should look like dirt by all accounts. As long as you didn’t put anything that takes forever to break down (large sticks, egg shells, a whole pumpkin not cut into pieces), you shouldn’t see any remains of food or garden scraps.
- It shouldn’t be warm. While the compost is breaking down, it is at a higher temperature than you’d expect for regular dirt since it is working. Once it stops working, it cools down.
- It should not smell. Hopefully your compost doesn’t smell anyway, but if your compost smells, that’s a sign it is still breaking down some components.