straight compost

veggievicki(7b)March 28, 2014

I bought a load of compost for our country place, but we've had to move to town to meet the hubby's "on call" requirements. What's left of my compost has been sitting since last summer. I'm wondering if at this point I could use it in my square foot garden type garden beds here in town or if it would be too strong and I need to add peat.

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I didn't know compost could be "too strong". I use it regularly for both seeds and transplants.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:09PM
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jonathanpassey(Utah z5)

compost that old could be used straight. compost that may not have finished cooking might burn seeds but even manure that old would probably be fine.

a lot of people recommend testing whether your compost is "finished" by sprouting some radish seeds in it. if you get good germination then it is fine.

but i think that is usually recommended for compost that is quite fresh. yours will surely be fine.

and in response to the other Jon:

perhaps if it is too strong then it isn't yet compost? i have some chicken manure in a pile that could kill almost any plant. and my compost piles get up to 170 degrees when they are new. i'd say that's too strong... but the argument is semantic: since they haven't finished composting perhaps they are not yet compost? If so, then of my two compost piles one is full of compost and the other is full of something else that is not yet compost.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Finished compost will never be too "strong" to use in the garden. Compost that has been left sitting and exposed to the elements (never a good idea) will be fine when used properly.
Peat moss, a non renewable resource, is not a very good addition to any garden.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:33AM
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I agree it probably won't hurt to use it straight, but soil has both a mineral and organic fraction, so with only compost (and even if you added peat), you have no mineral soil, only organic matter. If you are making raised beds, mix soil with the compost rather than more organic matter.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:43PM
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To the best of my knowledge orientation is not an issue for garden plants : )

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Following up on toxcrusadr's recommendation, the magic of compost is what it does for clay soil. Mix clay soil with compost to start your new beds. Going forward, just apply compost to the surface of the soil. Don't till the soil - allow the soil to organize itself into its normal horizons.

I have linked to the wikipedia entry for soil horizon below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil horizons

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 9:20PM
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