5 Ways to use Compost in Your Garden or Lawn


Use Compost in a Plant Starter Mix

You have heard that compost is good for your garden, lawn, and house plants but you may not know how to use compost to make your plants healthier. This article will teach you 5 easy ways to use compost in and around your home to make the most of its benefits.

What is Compost?
Compost is simply decomposed organic matter. Good organic material for composting is plant matter that used to be alive like: leaves, straw, hay, vegetable scraps, manure (poop!), etc. To make compost mix together carbon (ex. leaves), nitrogen (ex. food scraps), water, and oxygen. Compost is a dark and crumbly and 
smells like earth or soil. It is sometimes call humus. Compost is alive with microorganisms and nutrients that help all plants grow.

What Type of Compost Should I Use?
You can buy a bag of compost from any hardware store but compost that you make yourself is cheaper and more nutrient rich. Homemade compost is more potent fertilizer than store bought because homemade compost is made from many different types of vegetable scraps where store-bought is usually made from only one type (cow manure for example).

There are many different ways to compost at home. The twomost popular ways are hot pile composting and worm composting (also called vermicomposting). Worm compost or worm castings (worm poop) is an especially potent form of compost fertilizer. It is much higher in nutrients than almost all other forms of compost and is therefore highly prized by gardeners. To learn more about worm composting read Getting Started with Worm Composting and Why You Should Worm Compost.

How to Use Compost

1. Top Dressing Plants - The simplest way to use compostTop Dressing Plants with Compost is to add it to the top of the soil around your plant. This method for using compost is called top dressing 
and can be done to benefit indoor as well as outdoor plants. Simply use your hands or a small shovel to put the compost on the soil directly around the stem of the plant. This is a great way to use worm castings in your garden because of their potency and because you may not have enough worm castings to dig it into the soil in large quantities.

2. Add Compost to your Garden When you Turn the Soil - In between growing seasons, gardeners often turn over their soil to prepare for the next growing season. This is a great time to add a large quantity of compost to your garden. Simply cover your garden space with 2 or 3 inches of compost and then fold it over as you normally would using a tiller or shovel. Because this method of using compost in 
your garden takes a large volume of compost you will want to either purchase compost or use the compost you made in your hot compost pile. You likely will not have enough worm castings to cover the space.

3. Use Compost in a Plant Starting Mix - Whether you aretransplanting a potted plant or starting vegetable plants indoors, the plants will benefit if you add some compost to your growing medium. You can purchase a potting soil or seed starter mix that you can add your compost to or you can make your own growing medium. I use a recipe that is â…“ soil, â…“ compost, and â…“ peat moss. Because you will want your plants to get the best start possible, this is a great use of your precious, high-powered worm castings.

4. Make a Compost Tea - Compost tea is a tea made from steeping compost instead of tea leaves. It isn’t appetizing for you but your plants will love it. The nutrients in the compost diffuse into the water. There are a couple different ways to make compost tea:
  • Simple Steeping Version - Find something to use as a teabag (old t-shirt, panty hose, cheese clothe, etc). Fill your tea bag with compost. Then, put the compost-filled tea bag in a bucket of water or in your watering can. Let it sit for a couple days and then water your garden with it.
  • Brewing Version (added benefit) - To brew compost tea, put roughly 1 gallon of finished pile compost or worm castings (best) into a 5 gallon bucket. Then add 4 gallons of water (rain or well water is best because it is not chlorinated). Next, add 1 once of unsulfured molasses to provide a food source for the beneficial microorganisms living in the compost. Then, stick the bubbler end of an aquarium aerator down to the bottom of the bucket and turn it on. Let the brew sit for 3 or 4 days, stirring occasionally. You may want to strain the tea before using. The molasses and aeration wakes up, feeds, and increases the population of the compost’s beneficial microorganisms making this method the absolute best for your plants.
5. Top Dress your Lawn with Compost - Just as your house plants and vegetable garden benefit from the use of compost, so will your lawn. 

Hot Compost Pile

To apply the compost, simply spread it thinly over your lawn so that it doesn’t cover up the grass but rather falls down in between the blades. This can be done by broadcasting the compost over the lawn by hand or by using a push seed or spreader. This is the same device that you use to spread seed over your lawn. If you plan to use the spreader, be sure that the compost is fine and dry, otherwise it will clog up the spreader.
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