Can you compost soil

Using compost correctly in the garden

Compost is one of the top fertilizers among gardeners because it is particularly rich in humus and nutrients - and also completely natural. A few shovels of mixed compost provide your garden plants with sufficient amounts of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and also improve the soil structure in the long term because they enrich the earth with humus. Anyone who has created one or two compost heaps in the garden can use the "black gold" at regular intervals. But be careful: Just because compost is such a valuable fertilizer, it should be used sensibly and used in the right amount.

Make good garden compost

In order to accelerate the rotting of your compost and thus the composting, you should alternately add solid (e.g. lawn clippings) and loose components (e.g. leaves). If the compost is too dry, you can water it with the watering can. If it is too wet and smells musty, shrub chaff should be mixed in. The better the waste is mixed, the faster ripening takes place. If you want to use the compost in just a few months, compost accelerator can be added. It supplies the nitrogen that is required for the decomposition of nutrient-poor waste such as wood or autumn leaves.

When you finally remove mature compost from the bin or heap, sift it through before using it so that no coarse remains such as eggshells or pieces of wood end up on the bed. Use a large pass-through sieve or a self-made compost sieve with a mesh size of at least 15 millimeters. Ripe, sifted compost is especially important for seed beds in the vegetable garden, because here you need the finest possible soil.

When is the compost ripe?

Compost develops from the layering of various garden waste, such as shrub cuttings, grass, fruit and vegetable residues and leaves. Microorganisms decompose the waste and gradually form valuable humus soil. It usually takes just under six months before so-called "fresh compost" can be harvested. This is particularly rich in quickly available nutrients, but very coarse and can only be used as mulch for existing plantings. It is not suitable for sowing beds because it is far too hot for the tender seedlings. In addition, do not work fresh compost into the soil, because then there is a risk of rot.

Depending on its composition, mature compost can be obtained after about ten to twelve months at the earliest. The components are now largely dissolved and result in a finely crumbly humus soil. The nutrient content in the ripe compost decreases the longer it stands. You should therefore use the finished ripe compost as quickly as possible. The stage of rotting can be checked with a cress test.

Basic rules for fertilizing with compost

In general, you can use compost as a garden fertilizer all year round. A large-scale initial fertilization with compost takes place in spring, when the plants in the garden begin their growth phase. Then fertilize regularly throughout the year until autumn. Basically, the more nutrients a plant needs, the more compost can be applied. Magnificent perennials and heavy eaters get plenty of compost in the growth phase, wild perennials and forest edge plants much less. Bog bed plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas do not tolerate compost at all, as it is usually too rich in calcium. Plants that like to grow in poor soils such as primroses, horned violets or Adonis florets can do well without the natural fertilizer. If you are using compost in the garden, be sure to work it in as shallowly as possible with a rake or cultivator.

That's how much compost you need

The exact amount of compost required can of course only be determined after a precise soil analysis - and even then these are still approximate values, because the nutrient content of the compost also fluctuates quite strongly depending on the starting material. Nevertheless, there is a rule of thumb for using compost in the garden: Flowering perennials, which are very nutrient-hungry, should be provided with around two liters of garden compost per square meter over the year, ornamental trees are half enough. For some fast-growing or vigorously flowering ornamental plants, compost is not sufficient simply because of the low nitrogen content (N). Therefore, an addition of around 50 grams of horn meal per square meter is recommended for these plants. Compost can also be used for lawn fertilization. One to two liters per square meter are usually sufficient

Start fertilization when replanting

In order to give hungry ornamental plants - especially trees and shrubs - a good start, you should mix the excavated material with up to a third of ripe compost when replanting. If an entire bed has to be laid out, you can enrich poor sandy soil with up to 40 liters of compost per square meter. It supplies the plants with the most important nutrients for up to three years, after which they have to be re-fertilized.

Compost in the kitchen garden

You can use compost as a fertilizer not only in the ornamental garden, but also in the orchard and vegetable patch. To do this, rake the ripe compost flat into the upper layer of soil after the soil has been loosened in spring. Heavy eaters such as zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes, cabbage and tomatoes are particularly grateful for compost fertilization. These need up to six liters of ripe compost per square meter. You need a little less, namely a maximum of three liters per square meter of bed area, for medium-consuming items such as lettuce, strawberries, onions, spinach, radishes and kohlrabi.

The weak eaters among the vegetables should be mulched with a maximum of one liter of compost - but you can do without the compost altogether if you have previously grown high or medium eaters on the bed. The weak eaters are mainly herbs, but also radishes, lamb's lettuce, peas and beans. Fruit trees or berry bushes look forward to a mulch layer of compost on the tree grate in autumn.

Compost for pots and buckets

Ripe compost can also be used as fertilizer for flower pots and window boxes. To do this, mix a third of the garden soil with a third of ripe, sifted compost. Depending on the plant, a third of sand and / or peat (or peat substitutes) are also added. If you prefer vegetable or flower seeds in seed boxes yourself, you can also use compost to enrich the seed compost. This soil for the cultivation of young plants should not be too rich in nutrients, so a compost / soil mixture in a ratio of 1: 4 is recommended.