Can compost go...uh, stale?

ptwonlineMay 10, 2014

So I use free compost from my municipality.

Problem: in the spring and early summer the compost being distributed is swarmed over by people and it's downright dangerous to try to get it. It's like a refugee camp full of starving people and then a truck full of insufficient amounts of bread shows up: people fight tooth and nail to get it, and it's chaos.

But later in the summer and into the autumn it is much easier to get the compost, so I thought I would stockpile some and then use it in the next spring.

However, since the compost gets frozen over and dried out over the winter, does it still have the same benefits of applying it while still hot and moist? Should I be storing the compost and using it in the spring, or should I just apply it in the fall? My worry about fall application is that the fresh compost might be a fertilizer boost and my plants will get a lot more late growth and then die-off instead of hardening.

Any suggestions about the best way to manage and use this compost? Thanks.

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Gives new meaning to fighting over crumbs...

Since all gardening is local and all gardening is (should be!) long term, get the stuff when it's plentiful and stockpile it. Then get more.

Although you wouldn't know it from the compost-in-three-weeks people, it's really a long term thing; years even. There's no rush, no deadlines. Use it whenever it's convenient. If you're expecting it to be a fertilizer boost then maybe it's not fully finished?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:23PM
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Compost will not go stale, but if not stored properly the bacteria in that compost will continue digesting it and they could make it disappear, just as they do when it is in the soil.
Load up on that compost when it is safer to do so and store it in a dry location if you do not spread it around right away. There is no good reason to not spread compost on a garden in the fall and there is no good reason to only spread it in the spring.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:05AM
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I'd spread it in the fall if it's most available then.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 10:35AM
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If you're spreading it around perennials and worried about a growth spurt, you could just store it unti there's a frost and put it down then. If you're digging/tilling it into the soil, you can do that any time.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:24AM
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