Wondering How to Use Compost? 4 Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your Mix
From DIY potting soil to community garden gifting, deciding how to use compost is as simple as the process itself.
Composting is one of the most sustainable ways to limit—and transmute—your food waste. Rather than throwing your food in the trash and ultimately the landfill, a compost bin or even a compost pile allows food scraps and other biodegradable materials to decompose into a useful mixture. But if you've ever wondered how to use compost, you're in good company.
First, let's make like compost break things down. Composting is a process of organic decomposition that leaves behind a soil-like substance called humus. This nutrient-rich material is loved by gardeners and farmers, who use the humus as a soil conditioner, providing plants with nourishment and aiding in moisture retention, thus limiting water use.
In order to create optimal humus, you must make sure your compost has the correct ratio of brown and green material, along with good oxygen flow and the right moisture and temperature levels. Keep up with your compost's needs (and pay attention to added material) and you'll have a usable product in as little as three weeks.
When your compost has diminished in size and is dark and crumbly, you'll know it's time. Here, four ways to use the byproduct of your eco-friendly handiwork.
4 Ways to Use Your Compost
1. Use as Mulch
Nourish your plants by incorporating compost into your mulch layer, best spread atop soil surfaces. The compost will help to prevent evaporation, keeping your garden moist and preventing weeds from taking over. Mix with sand for use on mature garden beds.
2. Make a Compost Tea
Photo: The Prarie Homestead
If you would like to help your plants grow stronger and healthier, consider making compost tea. The concept is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of spreading compost over soil, steep your scraps to create a tea that feeds the roots of outdoor and houseplants alike.
3. Mix Potting Soil
If you're more of an indoor plant person, use your compost to create the perfect DIY potting soil. Mix compost with vermiculite (a mineral), perlite (volcanic glass), sand, and peat moss, depending on your needs, and pot away.
4. Donate to Community Gardens
Enjoy the process of composting but have no use for the byproduct? Consider donating your batches to a local community garden. Coordinate with your given garden's leaders for drop-off, or stay awhile and watch as your compost promotes growth.
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