Using Finished Compost

Mmmm! Smell this beautiful aroma of brand new compost! Nothing like it! With this finished compost you can add nutrients and organic matter to the soil, improve its texture, and increase its ability to hold air and water.

Because finished compost does not burn plant roots, large quantities of compost can be applied to the soil at any time. Here are a few ways you can use your finished compost:

1. Make  Compost “Tea”:

This is my favorite method– Compost Tea!
Compost tea is a neat way to supply compost nutrients to house plants or to spot-fertilize seedlings. (NOTE: You must use only finished compost to make compost tea)

Soak a burlap bag or old pillowcase of compost in a pail of water until the liquid is tea-colored. Another alternative is to add your compost to a smaller water-tight container and fill with water. In either case, let the tea “steep” anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The longer it steeps, the browner and stronger your liquid. Do not use strong tea if you want to feed the plant by lightly spraying the leaves (foliar feeding).

After the tea has steeped, put the liquid compost through a fine screen to collect any debris. What you have made is a liquid fertilizer that can be sprayed on plants or other garden areas.

Another choice is to stir one part compost into three parts water and pour off the “tea”. Using this liquid to water plants makes a difference, particularly in the middle of the warm growing season.

2.  Soil Improvement:

A. Try digging several inches of finished compost into a flower bed or vegetable garden before planting. How much you use will depend on how much you have available: the soil can use it all.

B. You can also give trees, shrubs, and nursery seedlings a good start by planting them in half-and-half soil and compost.

C. New lawns will develop healthy roots to keep them green if compost is dug into the soil before the grass seed is applied. When an established lawn suffers winter-kill, working some compost into the bald spots before seeding again is another good idea.

3. Top Dressing:

Treating lawns with a half-inch of compost serves as a very effective feeding when the ground has dried in the spring. By sifting the compost first, you can remove any unattractive large pieces or materials that may not be fully decomposed.

4. Side Dressing:

You can also apply compost as a spot fertilizer. Scratch it lightly into the top few inches of soil around the plant that needs a boost, and then water deeply.

5. Mulch:

Mulching should be done late in the spring when the ground is thoroughly warmed, but before summer’s heat to conserve moisture.

Spread several inches of compost on top of the soil around trees and shrubs, from near the base of the trunk out to the dripline.

To keep roots cool and to discourage weeds, you can also mulch around vegetables and flowers as soon as the plants are several inches high.

Finished compost can also be used to help stop erosion. It can be laid down thickly on the area that is eroding away or it can be mixed with water to make a thick slurry and then sprayed on the area that is in danger. I have often used finished compost on the side portions of raised beds to slow down erosion

5. Potting Soil:

House plants, window boxes, and hanging baskets will all benefit from a potting soil mixed with sifted compost.

Compost alone can be used for growing vegetables in containers and for starting plants from seed

For indoor use, you may want to sterilize compost in the oven for an hour at 95 degrees Celsius (200 degrees F.) — but don’t be alarmed by the (temporary) strong smell.

6.   When starting a New Compost Bin

If you are starting a new compost bin, in place of a layer of topsoil for the base, you can substitute (or mix in)  an equal amount of compost material.  This compost already has the microorganisms needed to create new compost.

As you can see, compost can be used everywhere and anywhere soil is needed.

If you have never done any composting, you are probably asking yourself: ” What are the most popular compost containers used by garderners who do this hot composting?”

For the answer to this question, keep checking this blog as I go through the various compost containers and other ways to compost.

See you on the next post.

“Working together to make a difference in our food and environment.”

Take care!


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