What is Using Compost?

Using compost is a sustainable and environmentally friendly practice that involves the decomposition of organic materials to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Composting is a natural process that occurs when microorganisms break down organic matter, such as food scraps, yard waste, and other biodegradable materials. The resulting compost can be used to improve soil fertility, enhance plant growth, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

The Benefits of Using Compost

There are numerous benefits to using compost in gardening and agriculture. Firstly, compost improves soil structure by increasing its ability to retain water and nutrients. This is particularly important in areas with sandy or clay soils, which tend to have poor drainage and low fertility. By adding compost to the soil, it becomes more porous and allows for better root development and nutrient uptake by plants.

Secondly, compost provides essential nutrients for plant growth. It contains a balanced mix of macro and micronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and trace elements. These nutrients are released slowly over time, providing a steady supply of food for plants. Additionally, compost enhances the soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients, preventing them from leaching away and becoming pollutants in water bodies.

Thirdly, using compost helps to suppress plant diseases and pests. Compost contains beneficial microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, that compete with harmful pathogens for resources and space. These beneficial microorganisms can help to control diseases, such as damping-off and root rot, and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. Furthermore, compost can attract beneficial insects, such as earthworms and ladybugs, which prey on pests and contribute to natural pest control.

How to Use Compost

There are several ways to use compost in gardening and agriculture. One common method is to incorporate compost into the soil before planting. This can be done by spreading a layer of compost on the surface and then tilling it into the top few inches of soil. Alternatively, compost can be added to planting holes or mixed with potting soil for container gardening.

Compost can also be used as a mulch to cover the soil surface around plants. This helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. To use compost as a mulch, simply spread a layer of compost around the base of plants, taking care not to cover the stems or foliage.

Another way to use compost is by making compost tea. Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer that is made by steeping compost in water. This allows the nutrients and beneficial microorganisms in the compost to be extracted and applied directly to plants. Compost tea can be sprayed onto foliage or applied to the soil as a foliar feed or root drench.

Tips for Successful Composting

To ensure successful composting, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to maintain the right balance of organic materials in the compost pile. A good mix of “green” materials, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds, and “brown” materials, such as leaves, straw, and wood chips, is necessary to provide the right carbon-to-nitrogen ratio for decomposition.

Secondly, it is important to provide adequate moisture and aeration in the compost pile. The compost should be kept moist, but not waterlogged, to support the growth of microorganisms. Turning the compost regularly with a pitchfork or compost turner helps to introduce oxygen and speed up the decomposition process.

Thirdly, it is important to avoid adding certain materials to the compost pile. These include meat, dairy products, oily foods, and pet waste, as they can attract pests and create odor problems. Additionally, it is best to avoid adding weeds or plants that have been treated with herbicides, as the chemicals may persist in the compost and affect plant growth.


Using compost is a sustainable and effective way to improve soil fertility, enhance plant growth, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. By following the tips for successful composting and incorporating compost into gardening and agriculture practices, individuals can contribute to a healthier and more environmentally friendly approach to growing plants.