The composting process is the natural process of turning organic matter like leaves and food scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants. It is a great way for a gardener to add nutrients to their soil and help plants thrive. You can buy compost from the garden center or try backyard composting. You can even do indoor composting if you don't have the outdoor space for a traditional pile. By choosing to make your own garden compost, you are not only saving yourself some money, but you are helping save the planet and creating healthy, happy plants. Here's what we will go over in this guide:
There are so many reasons to start composting at home. Let's focus on the benefits that using compost has on your plants.
How does compost help plants: 3 benefits of composting for plants
Composting your food scraps, grass clippings, yard waste, and other organic waste has many benefits for the environment, society, and your plants. By composting at home you can reduce your carbon footprint and help fight climate change. It can also save you some money because you don't have to buy artificial fertilizers at the garden center. Here are a few of the benefits of composting for your plants.
- Makes your plants healthier: Compost can help supplement the natural microbes that are already in your soil. When plants are fed organic materials, like compost, they grow faster, larger, and more resistant to pests and disease.
- Helps your plants absorb more nutrients: Compost supercharges your plants with nutrients. It provides plants with nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential to help your plants thrive.
- Aids in moisture retention: Adding compost to your garden soil helps it achieve the perfect amount of moisture for your plants. Compost is a valuable soil amendment because it helps adjust the quality of your existing soil.
5 tips and considerations when using compost for plants
When you start gardening, it can feel overwhelming. You want to make sure your plants are getting the best care they need in order to thrive. Don't let yourself get intimidated. We are here to help. Here are a few things to consider when using compost on your plants.
- Mix with soil: You can mix your finished compost with garden soil to make your own potting mix. Mix one part screened compost with 1 part vermiculite and 1 part native soil.
- Don't use too much: It is possible to use too much compost so that is why it is important to know when and how to feed your plants. Too much of any nutrient can make it difficult for a plant to absorb other vitamins and minerals.
- Use the right kind: You wouldn't put regular gas in your diesel car, so why would you use the wrong compost on your plants? Choosing the right compost depends on your plants and the nutrients in your existing soil.
- Make sure your compost has fully decomposed: Finished compost should look dark and crumbly and not like the original materials you put in. Using unfinished compost that still has food scraps in it can attract pests and harm young plants.
- Use it as mulch: Add a few inches of finished compost to your soil surface to help aid in water retention and, because of its density, it can help prevent weed growth in your garden beds.
Choosing the right compost: 6 best compost options for plants
It can be intimidating to think about all the things you have to keep track of when growing happy and healthy plants. There are many different types of compost out there. So how do you choose? Vegetables love a rich compost made of manure, plant waste, and yard waste. Here are 6 common types of compost and how to use them.
By now you know the benefits of composting for your plants. You have the option to create compost at home or buy compost from the store. Creating your own compost at home will not only save you money but reduce landfill waste. You don't need a lot of space in your backyard to get started, just a small compost bin in your kitchen and you are on your way.
Creating a compost pile or bin at home is super easy. First, find a spot for your bin or pile. Once you have that figured out, start layering your brown and green materials. Brown materials are items like dried leaves, straw, sawdust, or shredded paper. Green materials are items like coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, and grass clippings. There are some things you want to keep out of your compost pile, like animal products and oils, so be sure to check what items you should put in your compost bin. After you set up your initial compost pile or bin, be sure to turn it often to help along the decomposition process.
2. Compost tea
Perhaps you have heard of compost tea before, if not, it's a blend of organic matter that's brewed to help boost your soil. This makes an excellent fertilizer for your plants. Some compost bins, like a bokashi, allow you to collect compost tea without any extra work.
To make compost tea, fill a burlap bag (or an old pillow case) with compost and close the open end. Submerge your compost bag in a tub/bucket of water. Allow the bag to steep for a few days to get all the nutrients into the water. This should take about 2-3 days. Then you can put your compost tea into a spray bottle and use it on your plants. You can get a few batches of tea out of one bag and then spread the wet compost in your garden.
3. Lomi dirt
If you are short on space, and maybe on time, you should check out the Lomi electric composter. With Lomi, you can compost inside, right on your kitchen counter, in a matter of a few hours. Just toss your kitchen waste into the Lomi bucket (with an added Lomi pod to speed up the composting process even faster), push the button, and in no time you will have nutrient-rich dirt to fertilize your plants with. Lomi breaks down your organic waste in a fraction of the time of traditional composting methods without the smelly pile.
Compost and manure both provide nutrients to your plants. Raw manure adds nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to your soil. All of these are super important to the health of your soil. If you are lucky enough to have your own animals or know someone who does, manure can be a great low-cost, low-waste way to add essential nutrients to your soil. You can even buy bags of manure at your local garden center if you can't get it fresh.
Mushroom compost is usually used for growing mushrooms, but you can still use it in your garden soil at home. It is usually made up of wheat straw, manure, gypsum, peat, cottonseed meal, and grape clippings. Mushroom compost is packed with nutrients and can enhance water retention while adding nutrients back into the soil. It does tend to be more expensive than other options. Because of this, it's best to use this for growing mushrooms since they require a sterile fertilizer.
Also known as worm composting, vermicomposting uses worms to break down your organic materials. The worms eat, digest, and then excrete the organic materials, producing castings. These worm castings are nutrient-dense food for your plants. You can start your own worm farm at home or you can pick up a bag of castings at your local garden center. Don't add your castings to healthy soil though. It can add in too many nutrients and make the soil toxic to your plants.
6 resources to help you out with using compost for plants
Now that you have a good idea about creating and using compost for your plants, here are some resources that will up your composting game and help your plants thrive.
- How to use compost: This list provides 13 practical ways to use up your compost and how to store it for later use.
- Compost vs fertilizer: Compost and manure both provide nutrients to your plants, but what's the difference? We break down the differences between fertilizer and compost and which one is better.
- Composting at home: Basics of composting from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Includes the benefits of composting and how to compost at home.
- Best kitchen compost bins: Looking for a compost bin for your kitchen scraps? Here are 16 of the best indoor compost bins to put in your kitchen.
- How to make compost using tumblers or bins: A great guide on how to make compost using a compost tumbler or bin. Includes information on how to choose the right composter for you.
- 5-step guide to composting: This NPR article has an easy-to-follow guide on how to start composting to help fight climate change.
It doesn't matter if you start composting to save the planet, cut back on food waste, or create free, nutrient-rich food for your plants, it is still a rewarding process. Make the composting process even easier by using Lomi to quickly and easily break down your kitchen scraps. Users are loving how much time and energy Lomi saves them. Whatever method you choose to compost, it doesn't have to be complicated. So gather up your composting materials and get started today!
Written by: Sarah Kendal