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Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

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Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  offtheporch on 10/19/2013, 5:32 pm

It has taken ALL summer but the compost is fairly well "done". I don't know if it would be better to let it stay in the bin (tumbler) all winter and spread it next spring, or put it into my garden  yet this fall. I did a search on the site but didn't see any advice for this topic. Any ideas? Thanks.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  CapeCoddess on 10/19/2013, 5:52 pm

Hi offtheporch! Congrats on your finished compost!  

I spread compost whenever I have an empty bed or it looks like the plants need a boost. I recently topped off my kale and collard squares as I plan to let them grow into winter and I'll be topping of the fully planted under cover winter bed soon. I also recently spread a bunch on my empty garlic squares for end of Oct planting. Once the tomato/pepper/onion/snow pea bed is done in, I'll pull them out and spread some on there, too.

In spring I'll spread more everywhere and mix it in before planting anything.

I guess it also depends on how much you have. I have piles going so there's always some somewhere. What a Face 

So I guess I'm what I'm suggesting is, do it whenever the spirit moves you. It's all good.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  sanderson on 10/19/2013, 7:03 pm

Either way. I think more of the folks mix in some in the fall, and again in the spring when they are ready for their summer gardens.

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Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  offtheporch on 10/19/2013, 7:23 pm

Ok, guys. That's what I needed to know. Thanks for responding. 

I have some radishes,  carrots, lettuce, and beets still growing. It's been a great summer here in Michigan, for growing veggies.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  camprn on 10/19/2013, 9:32 pm

@sanderson wrote:Either way.  I think more of the folks mix in some in the fall, and again in the spring when they are ready for their summer gardens.  
+1

I am preparing to clean out my boxes and prep it for spring. I will mix in compost now and it will settle over the next 6 months. I will add more compost come warm weather, just before planting.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  GWN on 10/19/2013, 10:56 pm

Personally I would set my compost aside until spring, ....... the concern is that the winter rains/snows... will take the nutrients and wash them away. I would want to hold some of that back for when my crops where in the ground.
Just my thoughts

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  camprn on 10/19/2013, 11:15 pm

@GWN wrote:Personally I would set my compost aside until spring, ....... the concern is that the winter rains/snows... will take the nutrients and wash them away.  I would want to hold some of that back for when my crops where in the ground.
Just my thoughts  
I have never really found that to be a problem for my gardens. The mix freezes and then thaws slowly here, most of the moisture in the beds is given up through evaporation. Spring rain is something else.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  GWN on 10/19/2013, 11:32 pm

Interesting CAMPRN
This year I purchased a large load of compost. It was really good stuff and costly.
It was quite a learning experience to see that incredible black water come out the bottom of the pots and just drain away into the ground. Forever lost.
Now this is compost that I had bought, the stuff I have made is even more important to me.
I would not put my worm castings OR my compost on my plants in the fall, if they were outside...
I AM however covering all my beds with wood chips now.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  camprn on 10/19/2013, 11:52 pm

Maybe you get more winter precipitation than we do here. I empty all the pots into the garden beds then wash and store them for the winter time. Pots get remade in the spring with fresh mix. This process works well in my gardens.

One other reason I put compost in the beds this time of year is because I have active compost piles going in the autumn and I need both bins for that, so essentially I have no practical storage space for leftover compost.


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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/20/2013, 12:17 am

I'm letting some of my beds compost themselves, in a way. I'm topping them off with horse poop and leaving them otherwise alone over the winter, though I may spread some leaves over the poop. This year it was too cold to plant summer crops until June, so I figure it will likely be about six months until I use those beds again. The horse poop should have dramatically cooled off and deflated by then, same way it does in my big but ever-shrinking pile out back. Every food seed I throw in even the freshest horse poop grows like wildfire, so if it's safe enough when the poop is so fresh, it should be plenty safe to plant in by the time six months rolls around.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  floyd1440 on 10/20/2013, 7:05 am

@offtheporch wrote:It has taken ALL summer but the compost is fairly well "done". I don't know if it would be better to let it stay in the bin (tumbler) all winter and spread it next spring, or put it into my garden  yet this fall. I did a search on the site but didn't see any advice for this topic. Any ideas? Thanks.
I make some in both the fall and spring so I top my beds off in the fall which empties my bins.  Then make another batch to work over the winter and use some of it to sweeten things up and add to my containers.

Some keep their compost in a container till the next plating season and then use it.. A lot depends on how much room you have if you want to store it.  Personally I hope the peat will soak most of the nutrients up and am also considering covering my beds for the winter,


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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  GWN on 10/20/2013, 11:46 am

Personally I hope the peat will soak most of the nutrients up and am also considering covering my beds for the winter,
I covered all of mine last year with tarps... all of my raised beds.
This year I feel more "flush" with nutrients with the wood chips breaking down.

I have read where people grow deep rooted plants just for the reason to "tap into" the nutrients that go deeper, and then compost them (in essence the circle of life) I believe it is comfrey?

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  Turan on 10/20/2013, 1:07 pm

One reason for sowing a cover crop is to preserve the nutrients present in the soil in fall. I haven't much experience with this, I think it requires a milder winter/fall to get stuff going after crops are pulled.

But as to the OP. I would top dress those beds that I will need first in the spring. That is the bed for peas and in one of the cold frames for early greens. The rest I would heap in the greenhouse. Then I would get my fall pile going and keep that pile covered with a tarp or plastic. My reason is to help hold the heat and keep it from either getting too dry or too wet in the winter.

With writing that I better go follow with some action. (We need a wheel barrow emoticon)  

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  jimmy cee on 10/20/2013, 3:01 pm

I want my compost piles working all year.
When material's ready, in the garden it goes.
The new material starts.
I love composting, it's not seasonal.....

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  GWN on 10/20/2013, 3:38 pm

I love composting, it's not seasonal.....
SO true, I am not sure if I compost to garden, or garden to compost.
I have compost piles all over the place...

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  plantoid on 10/20/2013, 6:19 pm

Two  years ago this October I bagged 14 heavy duty poly sacks of my home made hot compost and stacked them against a cold north facing wall .

On Friday I took the last of them , opened it to find a fantastic dark crumbly matter similar to sedge peat and was able to put the whole bag on the residual onion bed in readiness for me putting in my onion sets on Monday  or Tuesdays

 What I found interesting is that I'd filled the sacks to within about 5 inches of the tops and tied them off then covered them to stop rain ingress.

This last sack had dropped another four or so inches of contents , was just over half full with plenty of nice long wiggly muck worms in it.
I'm hoping for a bumper onion crop in 2014

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  GWN on 10/20/2013, 11:13 pm

Plantoid
I have a question about onions. I have never grown them, you are starting them in the fall??
Is that how they are usually grown?
I have read some places say to plant in the spring indoors, but planting now seems like it would be better.
Can you plant in the fall if you have cold winters...? Zone 5?
thanks

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/21/2013, 1:26 pm

Plantoid, I'm surprised the worms needed so little oxygen that they could thrive in those closed bags.

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  plantoid on 10/22/2013, 7:34 am

@GWN wrote:Plantoid
I have a question about onions. I have never grown them, you are starting them in the fall??
Is that how they are usually grown?
I have read some places say to plant in the spring indoors, but planting now seems like it would be better.
Can you plant in the fall if you have cold winters...?  Zone 5?
thanks
I'm doing about half for over wintering. They don't like minus 10 oC ground for long it will usually kill them . They are purchased heat treated ( Japanese ) onion sets.

 To get your own sets sow seed about the end of May in a very sandy base in good sun but not baking things sunshine.  A base that has a little nourishment in it . 
Keep it slightly damp once the seeds germinate, once you get one inch long shoots move the tray to a cool north side wall . Still keep them slightly damp . Come the end of September you should have your onions big enough to lift and dry in a dry airy place not direct sun as this can cook the sets  . 
Some will bolt ..... there is a heat treatment that depresses the tendency to bold .. It might be found somewhere on line .
I used to know how hot and for how long they were heated but a stroke's  wiped that particular  data from the hard drive in my neck top computer.Laughing 
 

 I reckon I'd be unfortunate if here in South Wales UK if it got down to even a minus three o C soil temp for more than a fortnight ... even then there will be some losses .
 Covering with a foot of lose straw can help if you are reasonably slug free or prepared to use slug pellets on a regular basis .
 

The overwintering we do basically steals a four to six week march on our spring sown sets.
 In differing climes it will often be markedly different  .


Last edited by plantoid on 10/22/2013, 7:53 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  plantoid on 10/22/2013, 7:42 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:Plantoid, I'm surprised the worms needed so little oxygen that they could thrive in those closed bags.
You get muck worms fairly deep down in the massive anaerobic farmyard  dung piles so I suppose that they don't need much oxygen .
 The bags were  tied off with a cable zip tie not hermetically sealed,  so there will have been expansion and contraction of the air inside according to the outside air temperature.

 You also often find muck worms close to compost heaps made  on smooth floated off  concrete under plastic sheeting that are has plenty of water under the sheeting for weeks/months at a time .

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  sanderson on 11/17/2013, 11:46 pm

One good reason to add new compost now!  Lots of seeds survived my attempt at composting.  This is the first box I raised on 4 inches of pavers.  I added lots of compost, watered, and covered.  In a few days I had all (99%) these tomato volunteers!


Last edited by sanderson on 11/18/2013, 1:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  plantoid on 11/18/2013, 11:27 am

But can you keep the tomatoes alive till it warms up ??

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  sanderson on 11/18/2013, 1:49 pm

Very Happy   So tempting.  However, I would need an acre to plant all the seedlings popping up in the little beds and pots!

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  boffer on 11/18/2013, 4:51 pm

@sanderson wrote:One good reason to add new compost now!  Lots of seeds survived my attempt at composting....
Yep!  That's why I try to re-plentish the compost soon after harvesting even if I won't be planting for a while.  I call it pre-weeding.  I can get rid of most of the weeds before planting, and I don't have to worry about accidentally pulling up new baby seedlings when weeding.

I've never had weed-free homemade compost because I'm rather casual lazy about the process. Wink

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Re: Compost is finished. Spread it now or in Spring?

Post  camprn on 11/18/2013, 5:02 pm

@boffer wrote:
@sanderson wrote:One good reason to add new compost now!  Lots of seeds survived my attempt at composting....
Yep!  That's why I try to re-plentish the compost soon after harvesting even if I won't be planting for a while.  I call it pre-weeding.  I can get rid of most of the weeds before planting, and I don't have to worry about accidentally pulling up new baby seedlings when weeding.

I've never had weed-free homemade compost because I'm rather casual lazy about the process. Wink
+1

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