10. Ready-to-Use Compost

Compost is ready to use when it no longer produces heat. Mature compost is dark brown with a soft consistency. Place a handful of compost in a sealed plastic bag and let it sit for a day as a simple test for maturity. The compost should smell like earth and soil when the bag is opened. The compost is not ready if it has a foul odor or hints of ammonia.

Many gardeners make compost tea with freshly matured compost. Place a chunk of finished compost in a bucket of water and let it steep for five days. Strain the water through cheesecloth into another bucket. The water is full of nutrients and functions as liquid fertilizer.

compost tea, mature, soil, ready doidam10 / Getty Images
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