Monday, September 12, 2011

Five Ways to Use Finished Compost

Thar’s gold in them thar hills!

Or at least “brown gold” in that thar compost pile. Have you seen how much non-composters pay for high-quality compost at the garden store? Here are five easy ways to cash in your harvest and make use of finished compost.

1. Amend Your Soil
Compost is not exactly fertilizer. The real “pay dirt” of the compost is that it improves soil tilth and helps feed soil microbes. The HCSWCD recommends adding 25% compost if possible before planting a new area and then testing the soil to see if you need anything else.

2. Substitute for Mulch
Finished compost is beautiful stuff. You can spread 2-3 inches around flowers as an alternative to store bought mulch. Compost “mulch” will help hold moisture around plants and eventually incorporate into the soil.

3. Brew Some Compost Tea
“Steep” a shovel full of compost in a 5-gallon bucket of water for a few days. The result will look similar to tea (do I really need to say “Don’t Drink This”?). Use the “tea” to water your plants. Compost tea makes the finished compost go further in the garden.

4. Improve Your Lawn
If your yard is more lawn than flower bed, simply sprinkle 1-3 inches of finished compost over the grass and rake it evenly. In a week or two the compost will settle and disappear into the lawn, improving the soil, and making your grass look as good as gold.

5. Create a Potting Mix
Your potted plants will enjoy compost too. Mix 1/3 finished compost, 1/3 soil, and 1/3 sand to create a DIY potting mix.

Isn’t the beauty of composting that we are making something valuable out of what other people think of as garbage? I’ll be pondering this as I dig for brown gold this week in my compost bin.

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