What is compost?
Compost is Mother Nature’s way of recycling. Composting is a natural process that involves beneficial bacteria, fungi and insects. These busy organisms work hard to transform organic waste material such as leaves, grass clippings and yard trimmings into a dark, nutrient rich soil conditioner.
Benefits of using compost
When used as a soil amendment, compost is a significant source of organic matter. Organic matter is an important supplier of carbon and a dynamic component in plant/soil interactions. It improves soil and plant efficiency by improving the physical properties of the soil, providing a source of energy to beneficial organisms, and enhancing the reservoir of soil nutrients. In addition to organic material, compost adds trace elements such as boron, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc to the soil which are required for plant growth. Compost binds these elements and nutrients in the soil ensuring that they are available over a longer period of time for the plants to utilize them.
Do you have clay soils?
Compost improves the aeration and drainage of dense (clay) soils. The addition of compost to clay soils helps to increase the variety of particle sizes in the soil structure to overcome the poor growing characteristics associated with clay. The result is increased water movement during wet periods and increases the ability of the soil to retain water during dry spells. The larger particles also increase air flow through the soil which allows more air to reach the roots. The increased air movement also speeds up soil warming in the spring.
Compost improves the water-holding capacity and aggregation of sandy soils. The addition of compost to sandy soils introduces organic material to the high mineral content soil. This addition increases the ability of the soil to retain nutrients. The particle size offered by the compost also helps to increase the ability of the soil to retain water. Compost aids soil by improving the resistance to wind and water erosion. Adding compost helps prevent wind and water erosion by increasing the availability of water and nutrients to plants resulting in rapid strong plant growth in areas prone to erosion.
How to Use Finished Compost
Compost can be used in a number of applications to improve the growth and vitality of your garden, lawn and plants.
Before planting, spread 2 to 3 inches of compost over the top of the garden bed. Work compost into the soils to a depth of 6 inches. At the same time, you can work in some nutrients such as blood meal (nitrogen), bone meal (phosphorus) and potash (potassium).
Mix 1/3 compost with 1/3 soil and 1/3 vermiculite or sand to create a nutrient rich potting soil.
Spread out 2 inches of compost over the ground surface. Roto-till compost to a depth of 6 inches.Smooth soil surface with a rake and spread seeds or lay down sod.
As a Mulch
Spread compost on top of the ground around the base of trees and shrubs. Spread out as far as the furthest reaching branches (known as the drip line). The mulch will help to retain moisture in the soil and help prevent weed growth and soil compaction.
Spread up to one inch of screened compost over an existing lawn. The compost will work its way into the existing soil and help to create a healthier soil structure for your lawn. Top dressing can be done at any time, but for best results, top dress after aerating your lawn in the spring.
Put some compost into a burlap sack (or another type of porous textile). Place the sack into a large pail and fill the pail with water. Let the sack and pail sit for a couple of hours – the longer the better. Use the tea to water plants, vegetables or to water unhealthy spots on your lawn.