How Do I Know If I'm Getting Good Finished Compost?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Good point and good answer... I've been lucky with the stuff I get from the construction yard, with outstanding results... they use it for making their top soil, so I imagine they've already got the system perfected or tested...
    They make a wonderful adobe product for peoples' lawns and gardens... :)

    Anyways, thanks again for a realistic answer...
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,158

    Every supply yard uses some kind of "compost" to make their "top soil".
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Every supply yard uses some kind of compost to bolster their topsoil... I believe it...

    But that brings up the other point that surfaced a little earlier... the idea that the decaying organic matter(compost) is now having its environment(mixed with dirt) changed...
    So,,, would the new environment affect the compost enough, that it would no longer matter whether the decaying OM was originally 'fungal' in nature or 'bacterial'?
    If so, to what extent??

    I would like to have this point , not be lost... plz, don't submit to distraction and leave the question unanswered...
  4. Snapper12

    Snapper12 LawnSite Senior Member
    from CE MO
    Messages: 259

    Ric - I belive you could tell EC somewhat by smell... Higher the smell higher the EC correct?
  5. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,158

    That question can only be answered by sampling microbiology before and after topsoil has been added.
  6. GravelyWalker

    GravelyWalker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    I do my own composting, not enough for use on all my clients but as far as I know as long as the compost smells "alive" and not "dead" or rotting it is good. Smelling "alive" has a rich earthy type smell and it smells me at least. this means you have a healthy ratio of microbes to rotting material. After spreading it on lawn it does not stop rotting, (rotting just makes it easier for the microbes to break it down). So the microbes still being with the spreaded compost continue to break down the compost into the raw nutrients that feed the lawn. I am no expert but have done a lot of research...just my 2 pennys
  7. GravelyWalker

    GravelyWalker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    as far as the e-coli and manure im not sure i use only organic lawn and garden scraps

    I would like to take a look at my compost under a microscope thought just to see i will look into that
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I appreciate your honesty... :)

    I wonder if anyone will come up with a general rule of how compost reacts to being spread on a lawn, bare soil, tilled into a garden, warm temps vs cold temps etc...
    To me it seems that the microbiology existing in the soil that the compost is applied to would start feeding and breaking down into plant food as GravelyWalker suggestted... obviously various populations would explode while other populations would atrophy but over all, I don't believe they would ever remain the same...

    Is the reason that a microscope is considered so important is becuz we believe that once we see what's there, that that is the way it will always be??? I get the too much fungi vs too much bacteria, but I tend to believe it has to do with habitat anyways and the habitat of a lawn would not stay the same... a microscope only tests a X-section of what is happening in this point in time correct?
    The results of compost on the turf is really the only results that us scapers and clients really care about... Even the sandy manure compost in bags had some beneficial effects, in spite the majority of volume being sand...

    There are a lot of things to think about in regards to compost, and so far I haven't been lead astray by looks and smell... right now I have compost growing grasslings in it on various lawns and I don't know what the microbiology of it is now as compared to what it was when in the pile,,, but on the other hand... does it matter???

    Sorry for all of the misinformation, in this one post... but that has been my success story and if others have had similar/contrary experiences, the thread can easily continue... :)

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