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Using Your Compost

As any gardener knows, compost is worth it's weight in gold and you don't need large flower beds or a vegetable garden to use compost. Here are the most common applications:

Mulch: Apply compost up to 3" deep around trees and shrubs and in planting areas to suppress weed growth, provide a long-term supply of nutrients, conserve moisture, prevent soil erosion and compaction, and moderate soil temperature changes. Especially effective in fall and spring.

Topdressing: Spread compost 1/8"-1/4" deep on top of existing lawns with a spreader or rake. Finished compost should be sifted or "screened" to remove clumps and twigs. Build a simple, inexpensive sifter using hardware cloth and a frame of two-by-four lumber.

Sidedressing: A 1"-2" layer of compost can be spread around vegetables (especially tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), shrubs and flowers during active growing season to replace nutrients and protect root systems. The compost is placed 5 or 6 inches away from the plants. If you have a row of vegetables, the compost is spread along the side of the row.

Soil Amendment: Mix 2"-3" of compost into the top 6"-8" of heavy clay or sandy soil with a mechanical tiller, garden spade, or shovel. Compost will improve drainage and moisture retention, prevent compaction, supply nutrients and make existing nutrients more available to plants.

Potting Mediums: Sifted compost (1/3 part) can be mixed with potting soil or sand and vermiculite or perlite to create a superior potting medium.

Make Your Own Soil: With compost and sand you can make a good garden soil with very good drainage. If  your normal soil is predominately clay, instead of amending the soil, use a mixture of 50% sand and 50% compost to make a berm or raised (Easy Flower Bed) bed to allow good drainage. This save a lot of back breaking work. 

NOTE: Compost to be mixed into soil or potting mediums should be fully decomposed. Let compost age or "cure" for one month after removal from your bin.