Posted: 16/08/2013 at 21:14
I only know about compost made in an open-sided DIY compost heap constructed out of old pallets and bits of chicken wire. I have never used one of these fancy bin jobs and don't have a clue how they work. If your compost was made in one of them I can't help at all. However, if you have been chucking greenery, kitchen waste, old newspapers, vaccuum cleaner contents, rabbit bedding etc etc onto an open topped, open-sided DIY jobbie in the corner of the garden this is what you do:
First, the top layer will not be compost yet, so you need another identical construction beside your existing compost heap onto which you can throw the top layer. This will become the bottom layer of compost heap #2.
When you get down to a layer that looks like soft brown stuff with hardly any identifyable objects in it, that is your compost. Grab a fork and a wheelbarrow and start forking all the lovely stuff out of the heap and into the barrow. Stuff around the edges will resemble the stuff that you took off the top - dry, still identifiable as leaves etc. - this has to get thrown onto compost heap #2.
When you have taken out as much as you can from the heap, you can then wander round your garden and award plants that have done well a little and coax plants that have not been doing very well to do better with a little.
You will notice that it doesn't go far. A bucketful round a rose bush looks pathetic. But it will be full of useful beasties and fungi and all sorts of stuff that the rose will appreciate.
I generally do this in spring. The reason for this is that the plants are just beginning to grow again and that is when they need food. They don't need compost in winter as they are asleep. The rain of winter will wash all the goodness out of the compost and waste it.
If you have good compost now, don't wait until spring. You can give it to trees and shrubs that are still growing. You can make more compost over the winter and put that on the plants next spring too.
By having two compost heaps going, you can have one that is fresh and being added to on a daily basis and one that is "cooking" and almost ready for spreading.