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Got Compost, Now what?

Wheelbarrow We've been diligently composting our food scraps and are beginning to reaps the fruit of our labor.  But seriously, for this novice gardener, I'm not sure when to harvest the black gold, and even what to do with it.  Can someone help, please?  I know there are many green thumbs among us mamas.  For starters, when do you know the compost is ready?  Is there are right time to add compost to your garden?  And maybe I shouldn't admit this, but where do you spread it specifically?

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Compost...the black gold of the gardening world! There are many "experts" out there, but I tend to use what works in my organic garden beds!
Because my compost decomposes in layers (green/brown/green/brown) and is really big, I usually have to wait at least 6-9 months to gain access to the wealth. However, there are few problems with using your compost based on how it "feels." When you put your fingers through the gold, is it a bit crumbly? Do you run across the occasional mass? Is it mostly dark brown/black? Does it smell? If it's crumbly and doesn't have an odor, it's good to go. If it's smelly, well, just spread it out a bit and wait. Good luck! Here's one of my favorite info sites: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/09/recycling.food?gusrc=rss&feed=environment

My neighbor has "old growth" raspberries in his yard. They are some of the most delicious, and largest berries I've ever seen. He puts scraps from his kitchen directly on the base of the plant, working it into the soil a bit to keep animals out of it.

He has not watered them since they were established 15-20 years ago.

Sometimes you can use your compost without it being entirely broken down. If fact, you can mix it in with the soil in your garden beds in the fall or very early spring to add organic material and nutrients to the soil. Just give it enough time to break down before planting.

:-)

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