WHAT IS COMPOST?

Compost is simply decomposed or decayed organic matter. Compost is not a type of soil as some people may think but something that is created and this process is called composting. This process happens ‘in the wild’ naturally every day but compost can be man-made. It is widely used as a soil amendment or soil improver; it can be added to soil to promote plant growth without harming soil organisms.

Compost can be produced using a variety of methods and ingredients. It is essentially made from recycled organic products; the products are things you are likely to have readily available in your own garden, kitchen, or local neighbourhood. These are including (but not limited to) grass clippings, kitchen food scraps, leaves, pruned branches, seedless weeds and manures. The manures should ideally be aged rather than fresh and not from animals that eat chemically-treated pasture or have been recently medicated.

When these organic materials are no longer decomposing, they create a rich black substance known as ‘humus’ or ‘black gold’. It’s called black gold for good reason, as it’s a priceless resource for home gardeners and has many benefits!

So, what ARE the benefits of compost?

Compost is the basic building block of a healthy garden; it is one of the most convenient and easy ways to return organic matter back into the soil.

Here are some of the ways compost will keep you and your garden happy.

  1. Improves soil quality which means healthy plants and higher yields.
  2. Helps add valuable nutrients to your soil, acting as a natural slow release fertiliser for plants and microbes.
  3. Saves money by removing the need for expensive chemical fertilisers that may harm humans and the environment.
  4. Helps soil retain more moisture which reduces the need for frequent watering but still allows the excess to drain away.
  5. Helps reduce and prevent pests and disease which increases and extends soil life.
  6. Assists in balancing soil pH (the measure of soil acidity or alkalinity) which helps reduce plant stress.
  7. Significantly improves soil structure so roots can easily expand and access nutrients.

How to use or apply compost to your soil and garden

There are a wide variety of uses for compost. Here are some suggestions.

  • Add compost as an ingredient to soil (like we have to create the Regal Blend) to improve the quality of your potting mix for planters, containers and raised beds.
  • Use compost to slowly feed your plants over a long period instead of expensive and potentially damaging chemical fertilisers.
  • Apply as a mulch on your pots and gardens to protect plant roots from sun and wind damage, prevent erosion and reduce soil diseases.
  • Spread over your lawn as a top dressing to add nutrients and fill in gaps to encourage healthier grass roots.

Making your own compost at home

In your garden, or even indoors, you can imitate the natural process of composting and speed it up in a container or space where organic materials can decay, creating compost. Making your own compost is probably the simplest way to ensure high quality compost and save some money.

A well-constructed compost pile built with the proper dimensions and taken care of correctly will heat up fast and decompose uniformly and quickly. It will kill many diseases, insects, and weed seeds, it won’t smell ‘bad’ and will be easy to turn and maintain.

Containing your compost pile makes it look neater, helps you maintain the correct moisture, and prevents animals from getting into it. You can build your own but there are also many commercial composting bins on the market. The advantages of a commercial composter include the availability of a wide range of attractive sizes and shapes and ease of use. You can choose from box-shaped plastic and wooden bins and barrels or elevated and easy-to-turn tumblers. The disadvantages are that store-bought bins can be costly and produce only small quantities of compost at a time especially compared to a homemade bin that’s built from scrap timber or wire.

What can I put in my compost heap?

  • Hay, straw, and pine needles
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Organic kitchen scraps
  • Vegetarian animal manure
  • Flowers or trimmings from trees
  • Sawdust and wood shavings
  • Weeds
  • Processed foods
  • Meats, oils, fish, and bones (they attract animals!)
  • Weeds that have gone to seed or that spread by their roots
  • Diseased or insect-infested vegetable or flower plants
  • Ash from coal or coke
  • Herbicide-treated grass clippings or weeds
  • Non-vegetarian manure (it may spread disease!)

Purchasing compost

You might decide you do not have the time, energy, resources or know-how to make your own compost and would prefer to buy some already made. There are certainly plenty of composting products out there to choose from but it can be tricky to know which one to pick. This is not made any easier by a lack of comprehensive standards for compost and mulch products. As with topsoil, unfortunately there are some below-par compost products on the market and there have been instances of material sold as compost that is really not what it purports to be, lacking what is required to constitute a true and beneficial compost.

Well, we have good news for you!

At Regal we appreciate the many benefits that a good quality compost has to offer. Our Regal Blend soil is topsoil which has been pre-mixed with compost which will save you some time and our customers can rest assured that it is worthy of your garden; both the topsoil AND the compost within this mix are of exceptionally good quality and high organic content demonstrated by its “earthy” pleasant aroma and desirable texture and colour.

Adding compost or another organic material is the single most important way to amend and improve  the soil. A yearly application of compost, for example, may eliminate the need for any other forms of soil amendments. So as you take to your gardens in the annual ritual of a springtime spruce-up, if you don’t already utilise the use of compost you really ought to consider the many benefits it has to offer.

Find out more about our Regal Blend