YOUR FINISHED COMPOST PRODUCT
are several checkpoints with which you can gauge the success of
your compost. These points will serve as a standard
from which you can determine the efficiency of your composting methods.
Structure: The material should be medium loose, not
too tight, not packed, and not lumpy. The more crumbly the structure,
the better it is.
2. Color: A black - brown color is best ;
pure black, if soggy and smelly denotes an unfavorable fermentation
with too much moisture and lack of air.
3. Odor: The odor should be earthlike, or like good rich
soil or humus. Any bad smell is a sign that the fermentation has
not reached its final goal and that bacteriological breakdown processes
are still going on. A musty, like odor indicates the presence of
4. Acidity: A neutral or slightly acid reaction is best.
Slight alkalinity can be tolerated. Remember that too
acid a condition is the result of lack of
air and too much moisture. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria prefer the
neutral to slightly acid reaction. The pH range for good compost
is, therefore, 6.0 to 7.4. Below 6.0 the reaction is
too acid for the development of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Under
certain circumstances, a reaction of 5.5 is required; for
instance, for potatoes, azaleas, rhododendron, alpine flowers.
In this case, increase the amount of leaves.
Moisture: Most of the composting failures we have
seen have resulted from a failure to maintain the proper moisture
conditions. Moisture content should be like that of a wrung-out
sponge. That is, no water should drip from a sample squeezed in
the hand. Never let the compost get dry.