How to use Compost? A complete guide to take advantage of compost benefits

If you already tried the magic of composting, you may have answered yourself: how to use compost? Surely one of the compost benefits in your life would be less garbage but using finished compost in the garden could mean the start of something great. Here a complete guide take advantage of compost benefits.

How to know when compost is finished?

Before knowing how to use compost, it is important to know that not all compost is ready to be used as finished compost. To know if the compost is mature, you have to take a handful with your hands and check if it smells of forest, if it is a black or dark brown soil, which stains your hands very little because it is not very wet. Also, it will be ready if you do not recognize any of the remains that have been deposited in the composter.

If you are not yet into composting you can check 7 Tips you need to know for Home Composting: How to Start?.

It can happen that you have a finished compost but you recognize some branches, pine cones and fruit pits: in that case those will be separated with a sieve and introduced back into the composter to continue its slower process and serve again as a structuring agent.

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Earthworms In A Person\'s Hand

To use a finished compost, the temperature should be that of the environment because of the lack of activity of the microorganisms, which will be found in the newest remains.

It is most practical to collect all the compost of the composter completely, but small amounts can always be collected. Compost can be stored for about a year, but it is most common to use it when it is collected, so that it does not lose its properties and compost benefits. Before using finished compost it is recommended to pass it through a sieve. The sieved compost should be stored in a place where it is not hermetically sealed and where it cannot get wet, preferably in waterproof bags, but open so that oxygen can enter.

Before storing the compost, make sure that it is well matured. This prevents the decomposition process from taking place outside the composter. It should be protected from wind, sun and rain, as these factors can alter the nutrient content of our compost.

You can learn more about When is Compost Finished? Become an Expert with these Advices

Compost Benefits for your Garden and Yard

Provides essential nutrients

Compost contains nutrients that are often absent in synthetic fertilizers. Micronutrients such as manganese, copper, zinc or iron and macronutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen or potassium improve crop yields and provide healthy soil. Nitrogen is needed by plants for growth. Phosphorus strengthens roots and provides magnificent flowers, leaves and fruits.

Conserve resources

Beyond compost benefits we can also say that it helps absorb water so you won't have to water your plants as much. It also conserves energy and fuel better, because that heavy waste you don't throw away doesn't have to be hauled away. And finally, it helps you save money! By composting at home you don't need to buy fertilizer at the store.

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Person planting tree in fertile soil.

Keeps pests away

Research shows that soil treated with compost produces plants with fewer pest problems. It is said to help control insects and diseases that would otherwise invade your soil.

Improves soil structure

Compost benefits clay and sandy soils because it makes them more crumbly, airy and easy to drain. It also neutralizes the pH and increases the capacity to retain nutrients for plants.

Nourishes a diverse soil life

Compost contains beneficial bacteria for plants and worms or other organisms that enrich the soil and make it healthier.

Makes your work easier

By making the soil more aerated, it becomes easier to work with and benefits gardening jobs. It also makes your plants grow healthy and strong, without complications.

Top Answers for How to use compost? question

  1. Use it as Mulch: Compost increases the fertility of your soil and acts as a moisture retaining mulch. Before placing it, be sure to remove weeds and their roots. Try spreading it in a ground or sifted form, and use a rake to rake it into the cracks. If you do this once or twice a year, you will have the most beautiful garden in the world!
  2. You can try soil amendment: it is a treatment to fill clay and sandy soils with nutrients, leaving them in optimal conditions for planting. All you have to do is dig 2 to 4 inches, place the compost and mix it with the layer of soil you took out. Perfect soil and ready to plant!
  3. Compost tea: How to use compost as a tea? Have you ever heard about it? It's a liquid fertilizer you can make from compost that will give your young plants all the nutrients they need. Just put a shovelful of ready-made compost in a burlap bag and submerge it in a 5-gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for a few days and it's ready. The resulting tea-colored liquid will be perfect for spraying on your plants and flowers.
  4. Potting mix: how to use compost if you don't have a big garden? If you only have pots, then compost will work for you too! Prepared potting mix doesn't have all the nutrients you need, but you can add them yourself. Just make sure that the compost makes up no more than a quarter of the volume of the potting mix. When you are planting or transplanting plants, a mixture of 30% compost and the rest of the soil should be made. To use it as fertilizer, 20% compost should be applied to the existing soil in the pots.
  5. If you are looking for a vegetable garden, you can use your compost to apply on plant seeds. Make a mixture in a container of one part compost and three equal parts soil. You can then plant your seeds there. Plants that already have roots can support more compost, so the mixture can be 1 part compost to 2 parts good quality soil.
  6. Have you ever questioned how to use compost in vegetable gardens? If you already have vegetables, organic and/or backyard gardens: For vegetables that need a lot of nutrients (e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, squash, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, leeks, wheat, etc.), it is recommended to use 6 to 11 pounds per each yard, lightly plowing it. Vegetables that need few nutrients (beans, endive, peas, lettuce, parsley, onions, garlic, chickpeas, radishes, peppers, etc.) use compost in the fall or early spring or during the growth stage, adding small amounts from time to time.
  7. If you have ornamental trees and shrubs, you can also get to know how to use compost properly for them. When planting in spring or autumn, we have to add 20% compost to the volume of the soil in the hole, mixing it appropriately. Specifically for fruit trees you should preferably fertilize in autumn. You can spread a 1 inches layer of compost on the soil surrounding the trunk and mix it superficially with it. Alternatively, 6 to 11 pounds per yard can be distributed under the entire area of influence of the tree branches.
  8. Finally, how to use compost if there`s no garden, yard or even balcony? Potting mix for application on interior houseplants: If your plants are growing, pour some compost without mixing it with anything on the surface of the soil (if you don't have space, you can remove some soil from the pot and replace it with compost).

If you are leading with problems in composting process you cn read Composting Problems: Types and How to Deal with Them

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Person growing flowers garden agriculture.

How to use compost in large extensions?

  • Restoration of bare soil, construction landfill soils, black spots...
  • Combating erosion: soil fixation, stabilization of terraces.
  • As a substrate for reforestation in forestry.
  • Recovery of impoverished soils.
  • Stabilization and regeneration of slopes.
  • Formation of screens and vegetation barriers.
  • Land preparation for new plantations.
  • As substrate and organic support in large surfaces.
  • Application of soil filters for the retention of bad odors.
  • Extensive tree plantations.
  • Fertilization of meadows.

Now you know how to use compost and how to apply it to your needs, you will love the process even more. Or, maybe, start it as a fresh newbie.

Agostina Martino

Fashion and textile designer. Working on sustainability. Entrepreneur, creative and university teacher.

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