Using Compost without Soil?

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Hi all,
Is it alright to use compost straight without mixing it with soil or other additives? I plan to fill up some raised beds with cheap compost that I can get from a local recycle center.
Thanks.
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What do they make the compost from? Trees & such? No organics mixed in , like grease, meat, etc/
I prefer to mix with at least 1/3 soil. Interested to see what others do.
Also, I'll spread on top of veg. beds to keep in moisture; avoid dry, cracked earth.
Persephone
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No. The best soil is 30 - 40% sand, 30 - 40% silt, 20 - 30% clay, to this add 5 - 10% organic material (such as your compost and/or manure), and don't forget bone meal, or rock phosphate, and some wood ashes.
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On 4/29/10 8:58 AM, Naga Jolokia wrote:

A neighboring water district gives away compost free. It's derived from sewage sludge. The water district gives the following guidelines for usage:
When planting a tree or shrub or for a planter, use 1 part of compost to 2 parts native soil in the planting hole.
For new flower bed, vegetable beds, and lawns, spread 1-3 inches of compost and work to a depth of 5-6 inches. That's about 1 part compost to 6.25-7.0 parts native soil.
For existing beds and lawns, top with 1/2 inch of compost once a year.
Using my own compost (which is mostly leaf mold), I would use all compost in a planter. But my own compost contains nothing from toilets, garbage disposers, washing machines, etc; thus, it has fewer nutrients than compost derived from sewage.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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My neighboring recycling center also gives away compost for free. The compost is mostly grass clippings and leaves. IN THE PAST, I have used the compost straight up with no problems and with great results. The company test their compost on a regular basis, very good stuff, little to no herbicides and pesticides found in it. Not as many people use that space merchant stuff these days.
However, in the past most people set out the grass and leaves in large paper bags which also composted well. Now days they use clear plastic bags. So sometimes I see some plastic strips in with the compost. If I find the plastic strips I remove them. So I am NOT SO SURE these days.
Compost - I just cannot get enough of it!
--
Enjoy Life... Dan

Garden in Zone 5 South East Michigan.
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David E. Ross wrote:

Add to that the fact that I have seen on virtually every bag of compost from sewer sludge: "Do not use on vegetable crops or any crop raised for human consumption". Good advice. Might be harmless. Might not.
Tony
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There is a very good - but overpriced - brand of bagged composted cow manure called "Black Kow". They have a video on their site showing the planting of a tomato plant using nothing buy a bag of the stuff laying on it's side (drainage holes cut in the underside). Supposedly, the tomato plant thrives to harvest in it.
More realistically, composted cow manure (a favorite of mine, BTW), does have a measurable NPK ratio, besides it's usefulness as organic matter. But with a heavy feeder crop (and that includes tomatoes), you will need a little more N, and especially more P and K than the manure can supply alone. Composted cow manure is a great source of organic matter and trace elements, and a fantastic storehouse of soil microbial life, but only a minor contributor of NPK.
Tony
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Hi all,
Many thanks for your answers, suggestions.
I am quite sure that the compost is derived from wood chips, grass clippings, and leaves. It's not the sewer sludge type through.
Per your suggestions, I am going to mix it with some sand to improve drainage. I will also try it straight to see if the result is different or not. I can't use the native soil in my back yard since it's like pure clay. You need a hammer to break it when it's dry. And when it's wet, you can't even work on it.
Again, many many thanks for your insights, answers, and suggestions.
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Naga Jolokia wrote:

Your only problem is one of short arm disease... your arms are too short to reach your wallet.
In my experience (when I was very young and very foolish) the FREE "compost" from municipal sources is not compost at all, it's rotted/fermented organic matter in various levels of doneness, typically not very done at all... if you can see the wood chips and discern all the other bits of organic matter it's certainly not composted or even rotted (composted and fermented are more different than night and day). Also those wood chips (and other debris) are collected willy nilly from various sources, most usually contaminated with nefarious insect larvae, fungi, and quite possibly toxins, especially toxins from lawn clippings... usually shredded/chipped branches from roadsides collected by utility companies and highway departments, but can well be chipped chemically treated lumber, and even scraped up roadside soil containing oil spills. The two times I availed myself of the freebies it was definitively mulch (extremely poor quality mulch), not compost. Placing it in my beds was a serious mistake, the insects/plant diseases it harbored nearly destroyed all my shrubs and trees. Fermented sewage sludge is a lot worse. If you really want compost I strongly suggest you make your own, or buy bagged *sterilized* compost. But (like ground meat) it's best to make your own, that's the only way you'll know what/who is in it. If that FREE compost was of any quality at all it would not be free, they'd bag it and sell it... they are using citizen's property for supplimenting municipal landfill sites.... it's called spreading the wealth around, so when the inspectors arrive they won't designate your town dump another Super Fund site.

Sand needs nothing to improve drainage, sand drains perfectly well on it's own... adding compost to sand inhibits drainage... compost will fill the voids between the sand particles. The compost won't last long but for the short term it will hinder drainage... a lot of sweat labor for nothing. To improve drainage look towards creating proper grading, installing culverts, adding drainage ditches, placing perforated piping, burying shale, etc. Adding compost will not improve drainage... otherwise folks whose basements flood would get rid of their sump pumps and spread compost about the basement floor.

Mixing compost with poor soil will literally do nothing, nada, zilch... compost will NOT improve soil one iota, certainly not the kind of soil you describe. Compost is pure organic material that will continue to decompose until in a very short time (less than a year) will be totally gone... it will become dust that blows away from wind and/or washes away from rain. Compost is a very short term improvement that should be used in direct contact with plant roots on a very temporary basis, as though it were potting medium. Working compost into *your* soil is fine if you want to save on gym fees. What you need, from your own words, is many 10 yard dump truck loads of quality top soil, enough to cover your entire gardening area at least six inches deep, preferably a full foot deep... but first tend to any drainage problems with excavation.
After reading this group for a few years I've discovered that absolutely no one (not even one person) knows what compost is, they don't know the difference between compost and mulch... they are not synonymous, in fact they are the exact opposites... compost is decomposed organic material that *promotes* plant growth, mulch is any material that *inhibits* plant growth (mulch is not necessarily organic).
Free compost... nothing is free... fergedaboudit... t he only solution to your problem is to grow longer arms.
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The above comments DO NOT reflect the majority opinion of rec.gardens.
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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wrote:

This is not contradicting your particular stance about this issue, but have you consulted everyone reading this group to establish that this is the majority view, bearing in mind that not everyone who reads this group, and has an opinion, actually posts to it in every thread? You should be very careful about extrapolating views. It's like the people who jump on posters they disagree with to say "we do not want you here", and assume that they have the right to speak for everyone who reads the newsgroup.
Geoff
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snipped-for-privacy@leavethisoutblueyonder.co.uk wrote:

Philosophically you raise a good question, but empirically, it is easy. How many people have you ever seen agree with Shelly, a.k.a. brooklyn1? How many people have you ever seen disagree with Shelly, a.k.a. brooklyn1? I rest my case.
The best garden soil is 30 - 40% sand, 30 - 40% silt, 20 - 30% clay, to this add 5 - 10% organic material (such as your compost and/or manure), and don't forget bone meal, or rock phosphate, and some wood ashes. If you have any small pieces of charcoal (from real wood), or charcoal dust, mix that in as well. Turn soil one time. It will be the last time that you need to dig.
You can vastly improve the soil (in a raised bed or not, sandy or clay soils) by growing rye, or buckwheat on it. These plants make miles of root hairs. With further plantings, include legumes, or clover for nitrogen. Look for seed mixes called "Green Manure".
There after use what is called lasagna gardening, or sheet mulching (same, same). <http://organicgardening.about.com/od/startinganorganicgarden/a/lasagnaga rden.htm> and/<or http://www.agroforestry.net/pubs/Sheet_Mulching.html
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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wrote:

Sorry, you have not proved your case. If you wish to make your claim on the basis of posts actually appearing on this newsgroup that it would appear that most posts support your view, then you would be on somewhat safer ground with this qualification, and I would not necessarily quibble with you, although I would have to research properly in the newsgroup archives as to whether this particular assertion is correct. However, this is not actually what you said, and to assume globally that your view is the majority view of everyone (from around the world) who may read the newsgroup could be completely false and indefensible. Have you conducted a poll of a defined sample of people? Do you know everyone who reads this newsgroup? I have lurked and occasionally posted here for years but I have not posted an opinion on everything that has been raised. There are many issues in which I prefer to see both sides of the debate, in which I am happy to see yours as well as others in the group. I would certainly not wish to censor anyone (and I hasten to add, that you don't appear to want to do so either). Some people want to form an opinion and keep it to themselves, so will not necessarily post. However, just because you are pro-active in promoting your cause and are here regularly doing so in this group does not mean that you can claim to speak for everyone who reads it, which is what your statement appeared to be doing in your original post.
Geoff
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snipped-for-privacy@leavethisoutblueyonder.co.uk wrote:

'Ats a fair cop. Praps a bit'o hyperbole there. I'm not saying Shelly is always wrong, no, no no, no. Like the analog watch he can be right twice a day. Sometimes he can be spot on, but it's not worth the risk.
For a better understanding of Shelly, come with me down memory lane.
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 22:51:49 GMT brooklyn1 wrote:

Why do so many of your posts include personal attacks? Do you enjoy being pointlessly nasty?
David
--

From: "brooklyn1" < snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 22:51:49 GMT
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In article
To recapitulate, Naga would best be served by mixing his compost at 5 - 10% of his soil. The ideal soil is 30-40% sand, 30-40% silt, and 10-20% clay. Even the poorest of soils will be improved by growing rye or buckwheat. Buckwheat has many health benefits, so I would probably chose it. Once these plants have loosened the soil, I would grow a crop of "green manure" to make the soil fertile. These two steps aren't necessary for gardening but they will improve your yields. Clay and humus (from the compost that you add) hold water and nutrients. Sand allows for draining, and the silt is a happy medium to keep the soil from getting too wet or drying out too fast.
The main problem as I see it with 100% compost, is too damp an environment, and since the compost slowly, and inexorably, decays into CO2 and water, the anchoring ability of the compost will be reduced, and his plants may fall over, or their roots will be exposed.
The rehabilitation of Shelly is totally another matter, which should not obfuscate the information that Naga needs.
Good gardening, Naga.
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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wrote:

<snip>
Billy, I've snipped the "memory lane" just for brevity and not to censor your words. I remember some of those episodes well and agree with you that they were unsavoury. However, I still defend the right of anybody who wishes to express a view or describe an experience relating to gardening issues here in a public forum to go ahead and do so. You say that he (Shelly) sometimes "can be spot on, but it's not worth the risk". For that reason alone I would contend that it *is* worth the risk and surely people can make up their own minds about what he says, especially if there are diligent well argued replies to counter his views from other posters, such as yourself, when expressing your own opinion. I've made my point and will retreat back to "lurkdom"!
best wishes
Geoff
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GMT, snipped-for-privacy@leavethisoutblueyonder.co.uk wrote:

My remarks were not unsavory, except to those wusses ascared of *truth*. And WTF are you to make yourself judge and jury... when you don't play the game you don't get to make the rules... you're only a scumbag cowardly lurker who contributes absolutely nothing but your occasionally oozing out from under your rock to cause a putrid stench and to do some COWARDLY left handed opportunist sniping before scurrying back to your slime.... you may envision yourself some hero type but in fact you ARE *unsavory* _garbage_. You're far worse than Billygoat, he contributes nothing useful either but at least he's not hiding. Your only purpose for making your presense was to highlight the Billygoat's manure, regardless your claim of innocent protectionism... you're as phony as any politico. Now stay TF away.
All my gardening posts are based on my own personal- hands in the ground -*practical* experience, unlike the Billygoat's theoretical -never touched dirt- fantasies. If even one person benefits from my posts that fine with me, the rest of you obviously envious bashers can drop dead.
Ode to Billy: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2007/3/23/17556/4451
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ROFL ;O))
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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On Sat, 01 May 2010 09:41:14 -0400, brooklyn1

I was expressing an opinion, Sheldon, just like you have ........
ROFL.
Geoff
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snipped-for-privacy@leavethisoutblueyonder.co.uk wrote:

There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves. - Will Rogers
P.S. My nascent garden can be seen in alt.binaries.pictures.gardens
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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