ANSWER: The basic rule of thumb to determine whether you should dig your compost into the soil is that you should dig the compost into the top six to 12 inches of soil when you’re amending soil in a new area or to correct a shortcoming. If you’re adding compost to maintain an area that’s already had its soil amended, you do not need to dig the compost into the soil.
ANSWER: Using sand as one of the ingredients in your compost will add bulk to your compost pile to fill it out, along with injecting the mixture with trace minerals from the sand. In any type of soil, a bit of sand will increase drainage, and its fine particles will help break up any clods or clumps. Adding some sand will also aerate the soil to increase the circulation of oxygen, encouraging stronger, healthier root systems in your plants.
QUESTION: How soon can I plant after adding compost? I don’t want to mess up my garden.
ANSWER: Ideally, when using homemade compost, you should amend your garden soil with fresh compost in the fall ahead of the spring planting season so the compost has all winter to decompose and release its nutrients into your garden’s soil. However, as long as your compost is completely mature and ready to use, there is no danger of “burning” plants with fresh compost or otherwise harming your plants if you need to add compost and plant immediately afterward.
QUESTION: How often should you change compost in pots? I want my potted plants to be healthy, but I don’t want to create too much work for myself. Matthew G
ANSWER: Experts recommend refreshing compost in potted plants on a schedule ranging from every six months (once in the spring and once in the fall) to every year or two.
How frequently the compost in your potted plants will need to be exchanged for a new batch depends on how large the container is. Plants that are growing in relatively large containers can wait until the one- or two-year mark for you to freshen up their potting soil and compost, while plants growing in smaller containers will need their soil and compost changed sooner, closer to every six months.
QUESTION: How do I make my compost hotter? My compost isn’t breaking down and just kind of sits there. What am I doing wrong? – Amanda L
ANSWER: There are a few best practices you can follow to keep your compost cooking. Compost generates heat as it decomposes due to the activity of the microbes that do the work of breaking down your materials.