“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness.”Khalil Gibran
5 – Time and timing of the Composting Process
How long does it take for compost to turn into humus?
This is a common question. The answer is, it depends…
It depends on the season, the speed of creating the composition, on the size of the ingredients and a few other factors.
The process of building up a composting pile can take anything from one hour (if you have all the ingredients ready) to several months (if you only gather kitchen waste from a small household).
The process of transforming the finished composition into humus can happen within 6 weeks or even faster, or it can take a whole year. This depends very much on the season, temperature and weather conditions. I have harvested humus for potting soil after six weeks from a compost I made on October 15th, 2017.
It was a relatively warm autumn in Portugal, and I used a preparation that accelerates the decomposition process. A compost made in spring or early summer could be ready even sooner.
The time of decomposition depends on the season because soil organisms are most active in spring and autumn. They like moderate temperatures and reproduce fast under the right climate conditions.
As mentioned in part 2 of this blog post, soil organisms go into a kind of hibernation state in very dry weather. The same applies in high temperatures, or when the temperatures drop below a certain level. This means, the transformation process from a compost of the right ingredients into rich and ready humus is likely to happen much faster at average temperatures (10-25°C).
These are the basics for making a compost from scratch which will transform into healthy and nutritious humus. This description is based on filling a dedicated compost structure of 1 cubic meter. The same principles can be applied to direct composting in a raised bed or a small scale compost in a bucket.