Cool Member
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Southwest Missouri

13-13-13 in the pile?

I have a 6x6x3 compost bin. I put ground up leaves, dead annuals, and a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds in it weekly. I have also been throwing in a few handfuls of 13-13-13 from time to time. Good idea? Waste of money? I usually soak it pretty good after I add the ground up leaves. Am I composting properly? Anything I should do different? Thanks for your advice.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I'm thinking it is basically a waste of money. If you make sure there is a good diversity of ingredients in your compost pile, browns and greens from a variety of sources, all that N P K is in there....

I'm not convinced I agree that compost is not a fertilizer. It is also a soil additive/ texturizer, etc. But I make my compost entirely from plant sources, no manures, etc. It's the only fertilizer my plants get (unless you count mulch breaking down into the soil). I reuse my same planting beds year after year and the plants do great... So all that fertility has to be coming from somewhere...

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Green Thumb
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Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:42 am
Location: middle Tennessee

Yes, I also believe that compost adds to the fertility of the soil; a fertilizer... and, it is also a great amendment to improve the "tilth" of the soil.
Personally, I do not add any chemical fertilizers to my compost pile... I do add some Lime to my large compost piles that have a lot :shock: of leaves in them.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Don't add fertilizer to your compost while it is still composting it can screw it up and it will stop the compost process.

Everything I read says compost is pretty low in N P K but is does have food value for plants.

One thing I notice that promotes plant growth is the ability of the plant roots to grow and spread very fast and far into the soil around the plant. The larger root system produces a larger plant. Compost is a soil additive it loosens the soil and promote root growth therefore you get a larger plant.

Fertilizer gives the plant the ability to produce a larger plant with a small root system.

Compost is low in nitrogen you can use legume inoculant on beans and peas it gives the roots the ability to use nitrogen from the air. It doesn't take much. Get a kitchen type pepper shaker fill it with legume inoculant wet your seeds sprinkle on a tiny amount of legume inoculant, stir well then plant the seeds.

Manure is full of urine that turns to ammonia and ammonia is an excellent source of nitrogen. Nitrogen makes plants grow large and very green. Laundry ammonia will do the same thing but very careful 1/4 cup per 5 gallons of water. The nice thing about manure is it looses the soil and promotes a larger root system you don't get that with laundry ammonia or fertilizer.

Wood Ash contains a lot of P & K and lime. Tomatoes need lime to prevent blossom end rot. Potatoes do not like lime it causes potatoe scabs.

If you want to use fertilizer add it about 3 weeks after the plants come up. Dissolve it in water and give all your plants a drink once a week.

I have tried Ammonium Nitrate and Urea for nitrogen and Urea is the best. Urea is almost twice as strong as Ammonium Nitrate and twice the cost but it is more natural. It is easy to over dose your plants with Ammonium Nitrate it is a lot harder to over dose plants with Urea. Dissolve 1/4 cup of Urea in 5 gallons of water give each 1 month old plant 1 cup of water once a week. Do NOT fertilize in HOT weather.

Lot and Lots and Lots of organic material in your garden is what you want any way you can get it even if it is just around each plant and not the whole garden.

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