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Growing in compost  RSS feed

 
Mark McDonald
Posts: 13
Location: New York
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I bought 10 yards of compost from a contractor to fill my raised beds partially. I had some of my own homeade with leaf matter, vegetable scraps etc. ai mixed it all up and added perlite. My question is, can I grow in straight conpost, or is it advisable to add sand, etc.

The compost was hot when I got it, but nothing in it was recognizable. When you dig to the middle it's warm and smokey.

My natural thought is this stuff would be better served ontop of the soil. That being said I can't afford a load of regular topsoil.
 
John Elliott
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Do you have wood chips you can add to it?  If it's still steaming, it's likely to sterilize any seeds you plant into it.  If it's cooled down to say 90F, that's the perfect temperature for starting watermelon. 

Here's a good link for more info on germination temperatures:  http://tomclothier.hort.net/page02.html

If it's too hot for what you want to grow, add wood chips to cool it down.
 
Mark McDonald
Posts: 13
Location: New York
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Well I was planning on putting some cabbage out in the raised beds that I'm starting indoors, in March. I wouldn't say it's over 80 degrees to the touch. I don't have wood chips to add.

I already used alot of it on my flat earth garden which won't be ready to plant in until April. But yeah I should have been clear I'm only planting starts in the raised beds not seeds.
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John Elliott
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They should like that then.
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I plant in compost all the time.  If it's still hot, I'd turn it a few times and let it finish before planting seeds into it.  Turn it twice a week and it'll be ready in a month.

My standard potting mix is 40% finished and screened compost, 40% sharp river sand, 20% normal soil from the garden.  It drains well, has a ton of microbial life, and doesn't cost me anything.  I've got a source for river sand where I get about 10 big 5-gal pails of the stuff (the outside curve of a river).  That usually lasts me for 2 years.

It may be too hot because there was too much manure in the compost mix.  If that's the case, it'll burn your baby plants, even if the compost is cool to the touch.  You might be smart to scratch it into your soil and inch or two before planting into it.  You'll still get all the benefits of the compost (microbial life) but it'll be integrated into the soil that the plants will eventually root into.
 
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