Fully mature compost usually has low short-term availability of nutrients compared to less-finished compost, since the nutrients have been converted to stable forms that decompose slowly.
Although it is necessary to add organic residues to the soil in order to sustain soil fertility, using CC’s and/or animal manures in addition to compost may be a practical choice depending on amount of organic matter available for your compost pile.
Hot composting :requires a couple of months to make high-quality compost, six months is typical when compost piles are turned infrequently.
A slower composting process, sometimes called cold composting or passive composting , is acceptable in many situations, although weed seed and pathogen kill will be reduced.
In cold composting, conditions are less optimal for microbial activity, and thorough decomposition takes a year or two.
With either hot or cold composting, there may be no rush to make compost once several batches at different stages of completion are established—one ready for use that season, and other “in the pipeline”.
Cold composting may initially be anaerobic, which in addition to being slower, can generate foul odors.
These odors escape when the pile is opened or turned, so if odors are a concern, anaerobic piles should not be turned or opened until decomposition slows and oxygen can slowly diffuse back into the pile.
Observation. If the answers to the following are yes, the compost is probably mature: Has the pile stopped heating up, even after it is turned? Is it free of off odors? Does the compost appear earthy and uniform in texture?
If compost appears to be mature, send a sample to a lab.
Determine through testing = C: N ratio, pH, and N levels give some indication of maturity.
Composts with a high C: N (carbon-to-nitrogen) provide very little N to a crop.
Composts tend to contain nutrients in the range of 15-30 pounds N per ton, 5-10 pounds P per ton, and 30 or more pounds K per ton, their nutrient contribution can be significant when applied at several tons per acre.
Variability of compost nutrient levels makes suppliers reluctant to specify nutrient concentrations, which most states require to assure a consistent synthetic fertilizer industry.
Add compost and water filling the bucket to within 6 inches of the top. (If you are using water from a public water source, let sit for several hours to allow any chlorine to evaporate. Chlorine can kill beneficial organisms in the tea.) Best choice is unchlorinated or rain water
Add 1 ounce of unsulfured molasses to provide a food source for the beneficial microorganisms.