When is the compost "finished"? It is
finished when you cannot tell what it was before it was placed in
the pile. If you can see that they were leaves and stems or roots,
it is not totally finished.
The next question is, "Does it need
to be finished?" The answer to that is, "No." Depending on your
needs, you can use the products of the compost pile almost anywhere
along the line. Even with the best of techniques, unless you are
willing to grind and regrind the raw materials, it will take a full
year or more to get to a finished compost.
If you need to have a fine textured
product for use in
containers or prefer to use that in the garden,
you can use a screen to sort out the coarser material. That can be
returned to the pile for further processing.
Many people prefer to use compost
when it can be called "leaf mold" which is a partially decomposed
product. In it, you can still see the veins and edges of the leaves
and it has a rather coarse texture.