Composting is a win-win process for humans, plants, and the environment. It is critical to understand the 4 stages of composting to improve the results.
The 4 Stages of Composting
The 4 stages of composting are termed as
- The Mesophilic Phase
- The Thermophilic Phase
- The Cooling Phase
- The Curing Phase
Some researchers and composting specialists may list these phases with different names but the composting process remains the same.
The Mesophilic Phase
Bacteria combine with oxygen and water to start the process. Carbon dioxide and energy are produced as a result, and it is used for the reproduction and growth of bacteria. The remaining energy is given off as heat.
The temperature of the pile is raised due to the reproduction of bacteria, and the temperature can reach up to 111°F (44°C). The mesophilic bacteria work only well in this temperature range, and their growth and reproduction are limited as soon as the temperature starts to go up.
The first stage lasts for a week or so. The compost settles down during this stage and is ready for the next stage.
The Thermophilic Phase
The temperature goes up to 158°F (70°C) as the thermophilic organisms become active and produce a lot of heat during this phase. When the temperature reaches such a high point, the harmful bacteria die, the seeds from weeds are killed, and the pile starts to break down rapidly. You must keep the pile damp and make sure that there is sufficient air in the bin or pile. It acts as a catalyst during this process. Remember to turn the pile upside down once or twice in this stage, as it will ensure that oxygen reaches the center of the pile and all other areas as well.
The Cooling Phase
In the cooling stage, the pile cools down to the normal temperature. A lot of organic waste is still pending to be decomposed and become usable as compost. You may notice the color of the compost turning to be brown in portions, but it is not fully complete at this time.
The Curing Phase
The last and final stage is the curing phase. Depending upon the composition of your compost, it may take up to 6 months before the compost is finally ready to be used. You can check the condition of compost after 1-2 months; if it is brown, your compost is ready.
It is helpful to turn your compost after 15-20 days in the final stage. Please do not add more waste in the final stage as it can disturb the process.