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Recycling compost


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  • Recycling compost

    I did a search and didn't come up with anything. If this topic has been covered elsewhere please link me to the thread. Ta!

    I don't have the facility to produce enough compost of my own but have bought bags of the stuff in. This year I've grown potatoes in large 40l containers using a mix of topsoil, old compost out of some of last years pots and new compost. In the past I've often spread used compost as a top dressing on my veg patch and borders - heavy clay soil here so it needs all the help it can get! However I now have a sizeable amount of compost in pots and elsewhere and don't want to use it just to top dress - in fact I probably wouldn't have space to use it all!

    How do people recycle/refresh their potting compost so they can reuse it the following year?



  • #2
    I empty each pot onto a plastic sheet (an opened out old compost bag) and check carefully to make sure there are no nasties in it. If there are I spread it on the borders as mulch, otherwise it will be re-used. I bag it up in old compost bags and store the bags in order so that I can re-use the oldest first. This is just in case I've missed any live nasties, the longer I leave it the more time they have to die off!

    I get a tub of FBB to freshen it up with before re-use.

    I put three big double handfuls of compost with a small handful of FBB in my riddle and shake it through, which mixes it in while getting out any lumps or roots.Then I tip it into inside-out empty compost bags to store it until I am ready to use it. The inside-out bag is just so I can easily tell which ones I've refreshed and which ones still need doing.

    I am happy to use the refreshed compost for anything except seed sowing, taking cuttings or for pricking out into. If the texture has deteriorated too much I might mix fresh stuff in with it, but it isn't usually necessary.
    My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
    Chrysanthemum notes page here.


    • #3
      I usually either just fluff it up then add pelleted poultry manure and slow-release fertiliser pellets, or I mix it with either new compost, garden soil, or well-rotted manure, or some mixture of the three, then usually still add some poultry manure and slow-release fertiliser (although less of them).


      • #4
        Have a read at this excellent advice by Potstubsdustbins who has sadly since died.


        • #5
          I have 40 x 30 litre buckets plus other miscellaneous large pots, so there is no way I could use fresh compost for everything (and I'd have a huge disposal problem if I did). I have developed a system for dealing with it:

          Each bucket is numbered for easy identification (I used Tipp-Ex which is waterproof).
          I have a spreadsheet recording the compost history (ie what was grown in it before) in each bucket, updated when anything is planted in it or the compost is moved to another bucket etc.
          I have a hotbin which produces fresh compost and an ordinary compost bin (green bin) for storage.
          I buy in compost for seed sowing, potting on permanent plants and for anything that will live in the house (salads, peppers, tomatoes) plus cucumbers as they are notoriously easy to kill.
          Apart from new compost, I always mix in a decent handful of bfb to a bucket before planting.

          Plants are divided into groups:
          Potato family
          Carrot family
          Miscellaneous (eg peas, beans, spinach, salads, flowers).

          The fresh hotbin compost, which is chunky and wet when it first comes out of the bin, goes into the storage bin along with any used "new" compost from seedlings, flowers, salads grown in the house etc. I may add fresh horse manure after the bin has been emptied so it has a year to rot down. This bin is always only used for potatoes. This appears on the spreadsheet as Green bin > potato
          Compost that has only grown tomatoes or peppers is sieved for carrots, as is some of the potato compost as above. This is Green bin > potato > carrot.
          Brassicas may be grown in compost that grew carrots last time, ie Green bin >potato > carrot > brassica.
          The miscellaneous crops slot in where there is a spare bucket at any stage.
          I can then reuse the compost for potatoes as I never have enough in the green bin for all of them.

          At this point it gets more complicated, because I may not have enough of the right type of compost available when I need it and the compost can then start to become a bit muddled. The idea is to keep everything in any one bucket as much the same as possible so that I don't end up with a bucket that has grown everything recently. Obviously as the years go on there is more and more compost (although it does rot down a bit so buckets need topping up) so once it has got too complicated and mixed up I put it on the garden or use it to top up the beds at the allotment.

          A section of the spreadsheet showing how things can start to get complicated!

          Click image for larger version

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          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


          • #6
            Not much to add to the good advice already given, except to say that if I suspect there may be some creepy crawlies lurking in used compost, I put it in 20 or 30 litre tubs fill up with water and let it sit for 6 months over winter before reusing around this time of year.


            • #7
              Add blood,fish & bone to old compost,I reuse my compost but rotate the crops grown in it,if a pot had one of the nightshade family in it last year,this year I use if for cucumber,carrot,peas etc & I empty some compost into used compost bags to store in the shade (& use the previous years compost this year,there’s never any nasties in it,just worms & centipedes that must eat any slug eggs) I look at last years photos to see what was grown where & in what container.


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