So, just how should I use compost?

moandtgJanuary 22, 2011

Hello everybody,

New poster here. Newbie to all of this actually. Never knew how much I would like gardening until my wife and I bought our first house a little over a year ago... The house came with a compost bin, Earth Machine, right by the backdoor and I learned not to put 40lbs of pears in it all at once -fruit flies were everywhere. Moved the 1 Earth Machine and got 2 more of them out as far from door as could in our city lot.

So now I have 3 earth machine composting bins and all of them are full pretty full. I add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. (Over the course of a year I have added 50lbs of alpaca poo, some light dustings of sawdust, some coffee grounds, 10 bags of leaves- very little added of that so far, and egg shells and home veggie peels and when started bought $15 of composting red worms, some rabbit poop and some finished compost and added some spent gardening soil, and have added some urea.)

I have done this over the course of a year and I have lots of worms so I feel that I am on the right track for cold or passive composting. I do not mix a lot, too much work. I know oxygen would be good but I have tennis elbow. I try to put in a small amount of different material.

I enjoy composting, fun to create. Really fun to see an explosion of apple worms.... when I put in about 50lbs of apples all at once.... was like a scene out of science fiction movie. 4 inches of a wriggling mass. Read here today that since not smelly maggots most likely not disease carrying.

Anyway, I thought to use some of my mostly finished compost last fall, dark and did not smell -that's finished right? Moved some rose buses and thought to amend the soil. 90% compost to about 10% soil. And, the roses did not die or seem to have too much shock. And, after reading a lot on composting tonight on this site, I wondered if I could have killed those roses.

I don't know what I am doing after all.

So, just how should I use compost? How do you use compost?

Do you use it in your garden? Say 50% steer manure 50% compost? Any qualms about urea in garden compost mix? Do you make compost teas? and if you do what do you do with the spent left over compost.... do you just throw it back in the bin? Can 1/3 of compost be made of coffee grounds?

Thank You for your replies in advance and sorry if I rambled.


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I try to maintain a 5 to 8 percent level of humus in my soil and I get there by adding, when necessary about 1/2 inch of compost and severloa inches of shredded leaves as mulch over the compost. I do grow plants in containers in 100 percent compost with no problems, so the only real prolem I see with what you did is that eventually that compost will be digested by the soil bacteria and not be there anymore.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 6:27AM
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Hi moandtg, I do not see a problem with what you are doing, sure this is your first pony ride? You have 3 composters, red worms & your roses are fine.
If anything could be changed, you could add basalt dust,Azomite or real salt to the compost/soil to get 60 trace minerals & elements.You should have some kind of mulch to save 20-30% water lost. Use shredded leaves,straw or garden cover, I use leaves & old burlap bags.
I use 100% compost, if I had manure of any kind I would compost it first. After using compost for tea, then spread the "grounds" on the garden or put in the compost bin. As for coffee chaff, green coffee bean,roasted coffee beans or grounds, I have had no problem, get a soil test every year for three years then every other year there after. Look at the thread"Coffee Chaff as Compost" for photos.
I was raised on a small farm & we sheet compost cow & horse manure for 20 years, still use horse manure today. I have not had a problem with urea , but the kidneys will filter urea.
As for rambling, I hate it when some one gives to little information & the next ten post are what do you mean or need more details.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:07PM
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Iwas reading this and had to ask when you refer to real salt do you mean epsoms? I've never heard it said that way, can you explain because I don't think you mean salt that you put on food, do you?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 9:58PM
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That what I said the first time I heard of it.No it is just like Azomite, but comes in a smaller bag then Azomite(44lbs bag). So real salt is a name brand in a smaller bag. I use Azomite, but name real salt because it is easier for the smaller gardens. Both products are a naturally occurring ancient sea salts in UT. Azomite said to have sea salts & volcanic ash also. They both are said to have 60 trace minerals & elements in them. One should put 1 cup to 400 sq. feet of garden. I am going to use some in my Bio-Char this year.But it can be put out like Epsom salt, gypsum,or basalt dust to add essential elements to the soil.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 12:52AM
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Whether you would need to spend your money on things such as Amozite depends on what your soil needs. If your soil has no need for what is in Amozite, or any other supplement, then you are wasting money, time, and energy putting the stuff in your compost and/or garden.
Soils depleated of organic matter can show nutrient deficincies that may not be corrected until enough organic matter is gotten into the soil, so concentrating on getting the humus levels of your soil into the range that is good is more important than finding some kind of cure all. I know many people that would spend lots of their money on soil supplements until they finally got the humus levels up and then had no reason to purchase those supplements which did not help earlier.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 7:21AM
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Thank You All,

I am learning and this site is a wonderful resource.

Thanks Again,


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 10:58PM
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