What should my compost look like?

I’ve recently noticed that my worm compost looks nothing like the photos of compost I’ve seem online… Online photos are often perfectly uniform and look like soil. My compost has egg shell bits and bits of newspaper, and is pretty… rustic?

It got me thinking about what should compost look like and why…

And I guess my thoughts are this…

Fully decomposed, uniform compost is a lot of work, in order to get everything uniform you need to ensure all the different types of food decompose at the same rate. This may mean pulverizing eggs shells into powder, chopping food pieces into small bits before adding, shredding newspaper with a paper shredder, or freezing food and letting it thaw before adding it to speed up decomposition.

However, other than looking good in photos, is this type of compost really better for plants?

I recently read that you can grow plants on top of compost which not only fertilizes but also gives off heat as things decompose. Great for starting a garden earlier in the year when it’s still a bit chilly. By leaving a bit of not completely decomposed food and worms, perhaps it will keep my potted plants a bit warmer?

And I’m often reading about adding slow release fertilizer to plants to ensure healthy growth throughout the season. Having items like egg shells break down slowly could be a natural slow release fertilizer?

Perhaps perfectly uniform compost is great but I’m not sure the result justifies the work involved. So here’s a photo of what my compost looks like in case you’re curious…

20120430-120607.jpg

It ain’t pretty but so far so good! 🙂

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9 comments

  1. hey A,

    I wondered about this too (i.e. mine doesn’t look like the stuff you see on the G**gle Images). But I think most of pics those also come from dedicated animal/worm farms where they are eating manure (yum….). Which might explain the uniform look & lack of egg shells, avocado peels and corn cob bits.

    Whatever – no matter what it looks like, my plant sure love it!

    D

  2. Great observations…I compost two ways…the worms get the kitchen scraps….unless the bin is overloaded, then it goes to the bigger 4’X4’X4′ bin the the backyard….I have seen those nice looking bags of worm castings (poop) on the store shelf and my little guys don’t excrete quite so uniformly but my plants and veggies don’t seem to complain much…keep up the good work spreading the word.

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