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4 Compost Uses
Compost as soil amendment
Compost works as a type of fertilizer, helping to increase organic matter in soil. Without sufficient organic material in the soil, plant development may be jeopardized.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, compost as a soil amendment is especially good for soil in tropical and subtropical climates. The soil’s microbial activity in these climates is year-round and the organic matter is used up quickly as a result. Soils in more temperate climates may have as much as 50 percent organic matter, whereas subtropical soils contain only 1 percent. Therefore, using compost will help raise organic matter in these climates. It is important to only use finished compost as a soil amendment.
Using compost as mulch
According to the University of Illinois Extension, nature has its own mulch, called leaf mold. This comes from leaf debris and provides a layer of protection for the roots of plants. Yard waste such as tree branches, brush, leaf and grass clippings can be used to create your own mulch for the garden and yard by allowing it to compost on the surface of your soil. Finished or unfinished compost can be applied as mulch 3 to 4 inches on the surface of the soil and will provide a protective layer for the roots of all your plants just as mulch and leaf mold do.
Compost as potting soil
Plants that grow in pots are particularly dependent upon the water and nutrients provided by potting mixes. Blending compost into potting mixes allows the soil to retain moisture and provide a variety of nutrients that are not typically found in regular potting soil or fertilizers. It is important to use only fully decomposed compost as a potting mix.
A good way to provide extra nutrients for your plants is to brew compost tea. Generally, a compost tea is made by soaking compost in water for about five days, then strain it and pour the liquid over the area you wish to fertilize. It is used as a liquid fertilizer and works best on new seedlings and transplants to improve soil quality and help reduce harmful fungus spores.