There are three stages of compost. First, there is the raw material stage. Next, is the in-process stage the material decomposes. Finally, compost reaches the finished state where the compost is ready to use.
The materials you collect and use for composting are raw compost. The process of decomposition has not yet occurred. So, the valuable minerals and nutrients are not yet available to your plants. You can use these raw materials by burying them in a Compost Honey Hole or a Compost Honey Trench where they will decompose underground over a period of time. However, the materials in raw form can cause more harm than good for your plants. They need to decompose
As compost materials begin to decompose it is often called “Hot” for two reasons. First, decomposing compost is generally very high in nitrogen, which in high concentrations can burn your plants.
Secondly, the process of decomposition produces heat. The heat can get so high that the pile ignites. Don’t worry. This rarely happens in home composting. But, it is not uncommon in large towns composting piles.
Your compost is finished, when the materials have broken down and decomposed into very small particles. The material is soft, looking a lot like peat moss.
It is now ready for use in your yard and garden as a mulch, or to feed your plants.
Tip: It’s a good idea to test the ph of the finished compost. See Compost pH.