Tips For Using Compost In Your Garden

Tips For Using Compost In Your Garden

By Michael Jenkins

Compost is a great reminder of how nature works—life never disappears, it just changes forms and feeds new life as it goes. Making your own compost is easy, and can help build our connection to our gardens and to the natural world as a whole. We’ve talked about getting started in composting before, and there are plenty of resources out there to help newcomers learn about compost and composting. But once you’ve made your own rich compost—or bought some from a reputable source—what do you do with it? Here are some springtime tips for using compost in your garden and getting the most out of natural soil enrichment.

  • Use compost when it’s ready for best results: As with all things in the garden, patience is key. Fully degraded compost—free of big chunks of non-biodegraded material—is the best. Good compost will be dark and crumbly with a pleasant odor. If your compost isn’t quite ready yet, it may be best to acquire some elsewhere and give your heap time to work its natural processes. Good things come to those who wait!

  • Use compost at the right time: Generally speaking the best times to add compost to your soil is in early spring or in the fall. That way the compost has the time it needs to work its magic and add nutrients to your soil. A good rule of thumb is that around planting time you should add 2 inches/5cm of compost to your bed and work it in gently, loosening the soil and thoroughly mixing the compost and dirt together.

  • Don’t forget your container plants! Yes, you can add compost to container plants—following the same formula you would for adding it to soil—2 inches or 5cm at planting time—gently use your fingers to top dress the compost by stirring it into the the soil in the container. Be careful and avoid disturbing the roots of existing plants, as this can damage them.

  • Add compost as needed throughout the growing season. While it is best to add compost early in the season, you can add it as needed to give your plants additional nutrition and support. Many flowering plants can benefit from some additional compost when they come into bloom, and veggie plants often welcome some additional feeding as they start to produce. Keep an eye on your plants and let them tell you want they need.
  • Don’t forget to water! After adding any type of soil enrichment, it’s generally good to give your plants some water as needed. Different plants like different conditions, but it can be beneficial to time soil amendments with watering.

  • Check your soil pH. As with water and fertilizer, all plants have an ideal pH range for optimal health. Adding any soil amendment can change your soil pH, so keeping an eye on it can help you monitor your plant’s health.

Composting is easy, and accessible to everyone. Using compost in your garden is a natural way to enrich your soil and feed your plants, so if you haven’t started using compost yet, please give it a try and let us know how it goes. Gardzen is all about community, and we love to hear from you!

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