How to Use Compost

Have you been dreaming of going green? You recycle your glass, tins, plastic and paper, but now is the time to take things a step further?

If you have a garden or even if you have a beautiful patio with gorgeous potted plants, using your kitchen scraps can make fantastic compost that is completely natural and organic, helping you take recycling to a whole new level.

The fantastic thing about making compost is you can make it in the garden or you can make it indoors, there are lots of compost bins on the market and there is guaranteed to be one for you. Of course each comes with it’s own range of advantages and disadvantages, so choosing is entirely up to how much time you have to spend on making compost and what you intend using it for.

Did you know you can buy indoor compost bins that uses worms to break down the organic matter? While this is fantastic for smaller homes with courtyards or apartments with patios, you need to come to terms with the fact that you will have worms living in your home; you may have to deal with unwelcome odors from time to time and may find keeping your cat or dog away from the bin may be a task of its own.

If you have a large garden then what’s stopping you from putting a compost bin into the garden? As long as it’s on a good drainage area, you have nothing to lose. There are plastic bins with sealed lids or you can make your own wooden bin, which is much easier to use when turning the compost.

 

How to Make Compost

Let’s start with the basics before heading onto how to use compost. Making compost is really simple, it’s a completely natural way to recycle your kitchen waste and reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills.

Compost is made up of two materials, green nitrogen material and brown carbon materials, when mixed these two materials break down offering your plants all the wonderful nutrient rich minerals they need to bloom. Compost also helps keep your soil to retain water, which is especially important in areas with warmer summers.

The green nitrogen material is grass cuttings, vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and garden waste. Brown carbon minerals are bread, pasta, rice, sawdust, wood chips, dry leaves and shredded paper and cardboard.

There are two methods to making compost. The first is layering each material, alternating them to the top; you turn them once every fourteen days and then wait for it to turn dark, crumbly and smelling like the earth.

The second is to shred all your materials and mix everything together in a large bin. Turn your materials every two days and all going according to plan, you should have wonderful compost rich in nutrients in only fourteen to twenty one days.

 

How to Use Compost

Right but you’re not here to learn how to make compost or about compost bins; you want to know how to use the wonderful compost you have been working hard at. The most important thing before putting your compost near any of your plants or your lawn is to ensure that it’s ready.

You’ll know your compost is ready for use when it’s a dark brown color, it’s very crumbly to the touch and it smells like soil. Don’t be surprised if you find some leaf pieces in there that is completely normal.

Never use partly finished compost as a seed starter. Unfinished compost is still breaking down and needs nitrogen to do this, if you use it in your soil it will draw all the nitrogen from the soil leaving your plants with stunted growth, yellow leaves and weakened stems.

Compost uses heat to break down, so you can imagine the danger of getting compost near the roots of plants, it literally burns them away, making it very dangerous to any plants.

What is great is that you can use compost for all plants from indoor plants and potted plants to trees and shrubs.

 

Indoor Plants

When using compost on indoor plants you will want to add one inch of completely finished compost mixed into the top soil. This compost will help the soil retain the moisture and it will offer fantastic nutrients to your plants helping them grow and be healthy.

 

New Plants

When planting new plants you want to give them the best start, you do this by adding four inches of your wonderful finished compost into the top six inches of soil.

 

Potted Plants

With potted plants you have to make sure that you only use mature compost, their roots can burn easily and they are restricted to the space they have. When putting compost into potted plants don’t just add it and mix it up as you would with new plants or other plants. Carefully add one part of compost to one part of sand and one part of new sand, this those together and they mix carefully into the top layer of the existing soil.

 

Other Plants

If you want to add compost to your existing plants and want to know how to use compost you will need to add an inch or two of compost into the top layer of soil. Be very careful that you leave a gap between the compost and the base of the stem to avoid burning should the compost not be quite finished.

Turn Your Lawn Green

Putting compost on lawns is much easier than you may think. The trick to this is to ensure that you only use the broken down compost, use a sieve if necessary getting the compost very fine. Then add half an inch of compost over the entire established lawn. Your lawn will draw the nutrients from the compost from there and you will be able to enjoy a lush and green lawn.

Planting New Grass

If you’re changing your courtyard area into a lavish garden then you’re going to need to plant lots of grass seed, this is a timely process and you need to be patient as your grass begins to grow. Your fantastic new compost can help with this process by working three inches of compost into the top six inches of the existing soil.

Shrubs and Trees

We all love beautiful trees and gorgeous shrubs in our gardens. Adding compost to your trees and shrubs can be dangerous if you don’t know how.

You can start by adding two inches of compost over the soil, don’t mix it in, rather leave it on top. You must also ensure that you leave at least six inches between the tree or shrub and the compost.

 

Mulch

Your new compost can also be used as mulch. Mulch is a ground covering which isn’t mixed into the soil but rather protects the soil like a blanket.

Mulch is used to reduce the effects of high temperatures on the soil, helps the soil with water retention and stops the soil from compacting.

Often if you’re using compost as mulch you will want to add straw or hay over the compost, this stops weeds from growing through and those that do survive are weak and very easy to pull out.

 

Tips to Remember

While you’re learning how to use compost it’s good to keep a few things in mind. Firstly it’s often not a quick process to make compost; it can take months or even more than a year, so patience is key. You may need to resort to commercial fertilizer before your compost is ready for first time use.

Always try and keep an equal balance of green nitrogen and brown carbon materials, the two work together with the green nitrogen adding moisture and the brown carbon keeping it dry. If you notice your compost heap is very wet, add some brown carbon materials to dry it up and if you notice your compost heap is bone dry and nothing is happening, add some green nitrogen materials or a little water.

You are helping your environment by naturally recycling all your kitchen waste and naturally helping your plants with fantastic nutrient rich fertilizer.

When using compost always check that it’s ready. The damage it can do to plants and lawns will be upsetting if it isn’t ready. Partly finished compost is still breaking down and creating considerable heat, where finished compost will be dark, smell like the earth and will crumble easily in your hands.

If you’re ever unsure that your compost is ready for use, leave it another week or two giving it a good turn in between to ensure the air is circulating. Finished compost will often still have leaf pieces in it, this is completely natural so don’t worry about this, it doesn’t mean it’s not ready for you to use.