Compost – uses and applications in the garden

Uses of compost prepared from kitchen scraps

Thanks to composting, vegetable peels and other organic matter aren’t worthless anymore. Resulting compost benefits your garden, your vegetable patch, flower beds and fruit trees, among many other uses.

Converting organic matter into humus is exactly what composting does, in a natural process that takes kitchen and garden waste to enrich the soil. Such items as vegetable peels, coffee grounds, damaged fruits, lawn trimmings and weeds can be thrown in a dedicated bin or on a simple heap of manure placed in a shady, wind-free spot.

This heap of nitrogen and carbon rich waste must be turned on a regular basis, for bits both large and fine to decompose thanks to moisture and the work of various invisible agents like bacteria, fungus, worms…


Compost as mulch protecting sprouting spring bulbsAfter several months, the conversion results in dark-colored compost which has acknowledged properties supportive of soil and plant life. When mature, it can be used in various places in your garden. Mixed with soil mix, you can spread a thin layer to serve as a growing medium. It contributes to plant growth, as long as they aren’t planted directly into the compost. A layer of more neutral soil is needed between the compost and the seeds.

Adding compost to the ground is best done in fall and at the end of winter. It is also possible in spring in the form of mulch between vegetable rows, but the amount of compost added varies depending on the type of plant grown.

Compost is also useful when planting fruit trees, and to upgrade the soil after a few years. Add a layer of compost topped with straw around the tree trunk and across the entire surface shaded by leaves.

  • This is called “topdressing” in the gardening slang.

If sifted gently among the blades of grass in spring, compost helps a lawn grow evenly (also called topdressing for a lawn). Compost also helps shrub hedges and perennial plants grow well when added as a soil conditioner. Finally, use it to fill in garden boxes, mixing it together with one part soil and one part sand.

Last but not least, that pile is a excellent way to attract beneficial animals to the garden. Worms, scavenger insects and even hedgehogs or other cute critters may find that healthy pile of material appealing!

  • Read all our pages related to compost

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Fresh materials on compost pile by Ben Kerckx under Pixabay license
Compost warms soil by Scott Robinson under © CC BY 2.0