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From Trash to Treasure: Creative Ways to Use Used Compost

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Towards the end of the growing season, a gardener’s biggest dilemma is what to do with the spent, used, or old compost. And while gardening can itself be quite expensive, it is important to find certain ways in which you can save time, money, and resources. But how can one make the most of their used compost?

There are a number of ways to reuse compost. You can either use it as mulch or level your ground. You may even make new compost out of it or feed container plants with it.

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So, the next time you are left with loads of compost, you should consider using it over again. Here we also curated 8 amazing ways in which you can reuse your used compost and make the most out of the compost that you have access to:

1. Use Old Or Spent Compost As Mulch

compost used as mulch

Mulching has a number of benefits such as maintaining the moisture level of soil, It also gradually releases nutrients to your plants, preventing soil erosion, suppressing weeds, and removing the residual effects of fertilizers or pesticides. Used compost makes a fantastic mulch.

And you can use your old compost as mulch in an easy way. Simply spread it on top of your vegetable or flower beds. Since compost is naturally quite dense and absorbent, it will prevent evaporation and thus locking moisture.

Just apply a generous amount of compost, around a 3-to-6-inch layer, and rake until the ground is even. This would be an amazing way to boost your soil, especially if you have sandy or clay soil in your garden.

But other than this, the compost will eventually mix with the soil and feed the worms and soil life and can also make a whole new rich compost for your plants.

2. Add Finished Compost to Level Your Garden

compost used to level ground

Another amazing way to reuse compost is by leveling your garden. This can help you even out a slope in your garden that you do not need. You may even use it to fill up some raised beds. Add generous amounts to the soil to help build microbial activity and build soil structure.

This will allow the compost to get into the roots, enhancing the nutrients of the soil and thus promoting plant growth. Not to mention, leveling the ground can offer a myriad of benefits like proper water coverage and better drainage.

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3. Add Used Compost to a New Compost Pile To Improve Soil

mixing old and new compost

Using spent compost as an ingredient to create a new batch is a great way to recycle resources and come up with something valuable for your garden. You can easily make new potting soil or compost from your used compost. Begin with removing large debris with the help of a half-to-1-inch soil screen or sieve.

Layer old and new compost alternatively. With this, the new compost will be able to rot into the old one while adding goodness and nutrients to it. So, your used compost will be rejuvenated in no time and you will double the amount of workable compost in your garden.

One of the most important things to consider while layering is that you do not want to pack them too tightly. Try to keep thin layers which will also make air circulation a lot easier. Adding worms can also help in creating pathways and allowing better air penetration. They also have a bunch of other benefits. So, if you can them, add as many as possible.

Once you are done, do not forget to cover your compost heap with a waterproof sheet. Add a plastic sheet to prevent the compost from getting damp during the rainy season. The cover will also trap the heat inside and will accelerate the process, making sure that your compost is ready sooner.

Here is a list of things that you can add to your compost to make it a lot more beneficial and nutrient-packed:

  • vegetable peelings
  • egg shells
  • grass clippings
  • tea bags or coffee grounds
  • hair clippings (human or pet)
  • newspaper or paper (uncolored and natural)
  • wood shavings

4. Use Spent Compost to Brew Compost Tea

Compost tea is basically a brewed liquid that concentrates bacteria, protozoa, and fungi, into a liquid form that can be easily absorbed by the soil. There are majorly two types – compost tea and aerated compost tea.

While the latter requires oxygen, agitation, and a little more effort, it can be a good option as it is not as smelly. Both these types only take about 24-36 hours to make and are perfect for increasing the biological activity in your soil.

Compost tea is believed to improve the soil quality and improve the number of mycorrhizal fungi and predatory nematodes that reduce the risk of disease in plants. So, using your spent compost to brew some compost tea can be a great idea given that your plants can soak up it easily and extract various nutrients from it.

5. Use Leftover Compost for Growing Carrots or Leafy Greens

growing carrots with leftover compost

As a gardener, you would know that there are certain plants that need fewer fertilizers and nutrients to thrive as compared to others. Usually, leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, and bok choy fall under this category.

So, if you have a lot of finished compost, growing these plants can help you use it up. Other than this, you can consider growing carrots as they also require a lesser amount of nutrients.

In some cases, old compost can even help you produce better-quality carrots. Excessive nutrients may result in smaller fruit sizes and more foliage rather than bigger carrots and lesser foliage. With limited nutrients, you can also decrease the risk of root forking. A win-win situation!

Adding it to your soil can really help improve the structure without increasing the fertility if you already have sufficient amounts.

6. Use Finished Compost to Fill Raised Beds

reused compost to fill garden beds

Plants tend to do better in raised beds as it offers better drainage and they also warm up earlier during the spring season. Moreover, the soil is less compacted in raised beds making air penetration better. Also if you have been planning on building raised beds, this is probably a great time to do so.

One of the best ways to reuse compost is by filling raised beds with it and building an ideal growing environment for your plants. You can either dig it into the soil in the bed or spread compost over the beds after you have cleared the ground. Now, all you need to do is wait and let the worms do their job.

7. Reuse Old Compost as Top Dressing

reusing compost as top dressing

Another way to use your finished compost is to mix it with plant food and top dress your planters with it. Compost is known to dry up quickly which means that mixing it up with soil is also a great way to ensure balanced bedding for your flowers and plants.

This would work even better with your perennial plants as it will keep them healthy and blooming. You can also consider using compost as a top dressing for your perennial plants each year.

For better results during the spring season, spread it over (one to two-inch layer) during fall. Adding it to the soil surface also aids in keeping down weeds.

This will last a lot longer and will offer a continuous source of food to your plants. You can even spread it across the lawn and rake it until is slightly visible. It will soon be taken down by worms, ground beetles, and other organisms which will help in improving the texture and quality of the soil.

To understand better how to reuse leftover compost, you can watch the video below:

Inoculating The Compost as a Guardian

Compost inoculation is adding bacteria that help in starting the population growth and speeding up the composting process.

This is known to improve the quality of the compost to a significant level. If all requirements are met properly, 1 bacterium can multiply into 8 billion bacteria in just 13 hours. All you need to do is mix it with water and let it activate, then add it to the soil.

I hope that with this you will be able to make the most of your used compost and save up on your time, efforts, and resources.

I am sure that at least one of these amazing ways of reusing old compost will prove to be helpful to you and will also bring value to your garden.

After all, gardening is all about investing your time and reusing resources to build and maintain a healthy environment where your crops can flourish in a healthy and eco-friendly way.

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