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How to Get the Most from Your Compostfrom: Lawn and Garden Magic
After a several months of caring for your compost pile, turning the pile over regularly, warding off pests and insects, and keeping your pile damp, it's only natural to want to get the most out of your compost. This requires that you use your compost wisely and effectively.
You'll know the right time to harvest your compost when you no longer recognize the original materials you used to make the pile. The finished compost should look more like soil or humus. It's dark, loose and smells earthy. When you harvest your compost, it's best to spread it out and expose it to the air. This will further dry out the compost and will make it easier to use.
If you find some bigger chunks still not fully decomposed, throw them back and use them in the next compost pile you make. One way to get the not fully decomposed material is to use a screen or wire mesh large enough to let the compost through but small enough to screen the remaining big chunks.
Of course, compost has a lot of benefits, which is why it's recommended by gardeners. Compost helps improve the overall structure of the soil. This means the density and porosity of the soil is improved allowing plants' roots to grab a hold on the soil better. The soil also becomes more resistant to erosion and runoff. In addition, adding compost to the soil allows better water retention.
In addition to the soil structure, the macro and micronutrients compost contains provides your plants with needed minerals and nutrients to grow and thrive. Soil holds in the nutrients better when compost is added and compost also improves and stabilizes the soil's acidity levels. These are only some of the reasons why compost should be used in your garden.
Let's get back to your newly harvested compost. After removing the parts that didn't fully decompose and once you're cured the finished compost, the next step is to actually use what you've been brewing for the past few months.
Common usage of compost is as soil amendment. Just add compost to your soil and allow it to draw out the nutrients and other essential minerals for your plants to absorb. You can also spread compost over the soil before the planting season as well as apply it to selected plant surfaces if you haven't got enough to go around.
How about using your compost as mulch. Mulch is a protective layer spread over the soil to help reduce the effects of the climate. You might need an ample supply of compost if you use it as mulch, though. To do this, you need 2 - 6 inches of compost covering the soil surfaces of plants, trees, shrubs, and exposed slopes. As mulch, compost will help reduce weed growth, prevent erosion, attract earthworms, and help retain water.
Another way to use compost is as potting mix. Mix compost with sand and soil and voila! You'll have a great quality potting mix you can use for your plants. A mix of 1 part sand, 2 parts compost, and 1 to 2 parts soil seems to be the general agreement for using compost as potting mix.
It's only natural to want to get the most out of your compost. You've worked hard to create your compost, so learn to reap the full benefits.
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