What is Compost?
Compost is created when micro-organisms feed on organic materials and begin the biological process of breaking them down into a form that plants and soil organisms can reuse. Heat in compost is generated by the metabolism of the micro-organisms that are eating the plant material. Look for compost that has been heated to at least 130F, which kills seeds, insects and plant pathogens. This same process also breaks down the chemical compounds in insecticides and herbicides that may be on the plant material. Residual heat in compost will dissipate when it is spread or tilled, but the compost will still be alive with beneficial microorganisms. Remember that it is the soil that feeds the plants, and compost feeds the soil. Compost supplies organic matter to feed the soil organisms that are necessary for plant health.
In New Mexico, our soils are generally deficient in organic material and microbial life and are alkaline (pH 7-14). We have either sandy (relatively large particle size) or clayey (relatively small particle size) soils. Compost is effective in improving any soil conditions. It breaks up clay soil and improves drainage, aeration, and tilth. In sandy soils it reduces drainage and conserves water and nutrients.
How to Apply Compost
As a general rule, blend enough compost to achieve a 50-50 mixture between the compost and the existing soil, down through the root zone. For example, if you spread compost 3″ thick over a planting area and till it into the top 3″ of soil, you get a 6″ deep planting bed with a 50-50 mixture. Some plants, such as vegetables or prized ornamentals, may require a richer mix while some natives require very little soil amending. For detailed advice on specific plants consult your nursery or horticulturalist. One cubic yard of compost will cover 108 square feet when spread 3″ thick.
When purchasing compost, look for a list of ingredients: cow or steer manure can be high in salt; peat moss is a diminishing non-renewable resource with no available nutrients; bio-solids (human manure) are generally high in metals; the superior qualities of greenwaste compost are extensively documented. Look for the words blended (bad) or composted (good).
Compost can be purchased by the bag. A one cubic foot bag is perfect for sprucing up the soil in your potted house plants. Or you can make a tea from bagged compost as a soil drench or foliar spray (see our FAQ page for brief instructions on how to make tea. We recommend buying compost in bulk when applying to large areas. Compost is much less expensive when purchased in bulk (loose) by the cubic yard. Delivery is also available. Compost generally weighs about 975 pounds per cubic yard. Of course there are many variables that affect the weight.
Soilutions’ Premium Compost
Premium Compost from Soilutions, Inc. is approved for use by organic gardeners and farmers in New Mexico. It is a low-salt compost made entirely from a wide variety of recycled plant materials such as leaves, grass clippings, ground trees and brush, cactus, weeds, horse manure, and stall bedding. Organic ingredients are composted for a minimum of 12 months, achieving temperatures well over 130F for most of that time. When mature, it is dark brown to black in color, and screened to ½” and smaller particle size.
Generously blend our Premium Compost into your soil before laying sod, or top-dress your existing lawn with a ¼” layer twice a year. Use it as a mulch in your vegetable garden—just till it in at the end of the season. Vertical mulch or top-dress around established trees.
For a complete nutritional analysis or a copy of our NMOCC approval, please call.
In every stage of the process we personally ensure the quality of our Premium Compost.
Vermicompost is the odor-free by-product of red worms (Eisenia foetida). It is prized by gardeners for its fine particle size and humic content. It offers many of the same benefits as greenwaste compost: aids in plant health, improves soil structure, holds moisture, and adds beneficial organisms to the soil. Vermicompost is an excellent addition to the soil in your potted plants. It is easy to make at home in small quantities. Read Mary Appelhof’s Worms Eat My Garbage for detailed information about worm composting.
More Compost Products
Once we screen our Premium Compost, we sell it as is, or bag it, or blend it into Topsoil and Potting Soils.
Customers love it.
It is a 65/35 mix of the Premium Compost and local native soil. We recommend using it when there is no soil available to amend. It is great for contouring with small berms and swales, or in raised vegetable/flower beds. It is approved for use in certified organic gardens in New Mexico.
Our potting soils are robust, well-drained and suitable for native plants. We will custom blend anything you suggest with our Premium Compost. For local native nurseries we use mixtures of sand and pumice, or red cinder and pumice.