Compost – The 4 Reasons Why It Should Be Well-Rotted Before Use

Mar 23


Jonathan Ya'akobi

Jonathan Ya'akobi

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The purpose of adding compost to the soil is to improve and develop it over a period of time. Spreading fresh manure, or compost that has not properly decomposed, is liable to have the opposite affect.


Well-rotted compost or humus is a condition whereby the organic matter from which it is composed,Compost – The 4 Reasons Why It Should Be Well-Rotted Before Use Articles whether that be manure from the farm, or weeds and dead leaves, has broken down to form a dark brown crumbly mass. It should have a nice, earthy smell and in no way possess an unpleasant odor. If it does so, then that is the surest sign that it is has not been thoroughly composted and is not ready for use. Why then is it so important not to spread the compost on the garden soil until it is ready?

*Compost that smells badly contains a high percentage of anaerobic microorganisms; that is organisms that do not require oxygen for respiration. Many of these are liable to be pathogenic, and therefore be potentially damaging to the garden plants.

*Organic matter is satisfactorily broken down to compost by aerobic microbes that use the carbon present for energy and the nitrogen, amongst other elements, for proteins. When much of the matter is still in a non-humic condition, these organisms will take up whatever nitrogen is available in the soil, causing a nitrogen deficiency in the plants, at least temporarily.

*A compost pile in its most active state, reaches a temperature of some 60c. This is caused by the collective body temperature of the millions of microbes working away to decompose the organic matter. Evidence of such is the steam that rises out of an active compost pile. In such heat, the majority of weed seeds and other pest organisms are destroyed. However, compost that has not been thoroughly processed in this way is liable to contain such organisms, much to the chagrin of the gardener, as noxious weeds infest the garden at some point.

*Fresh manure or smelly bags of commercial compost contain excessive salt levels. Increasing soil salinity is a major problem for farmers and gardeners alike, particularly in dry climates, for beyond a certain point of salinity, the soil can be virtually destroyed as a habitat capable of supporting a rich and varied flora. In fact, the main reason for spreading compost in the first place is to improve and develop the soil, the supplying of nutrients to the plants being an important but secondary reason.

In conclusion, one should never be tempted to spread fresh manure in the garden. If commercial compost smells unpleasantly, it has been pushed out to the market too early, which may be fine for the cash flow of the companies marketing the product, but bad for the garden. Similarly, homemade compost should not be used until thoroughly decomposed to the humus condition, as described above.

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