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Used and old compost - is it good for anything?

All my compost has always come from my local garden centre and most of it is J Arthur Bowyers Multipurpose.  I have several pots that are 3/4 full of old compost dating back two or three years.  They are probably pots that I had planted up with summer displays, and come the autumn I would have just pulled out the shallow rooted contents and left the compost in situ.   I'm wondering if it would be alright to leave about half a pot full of this old compost and top up with fresh new compost.  I will only be planting annuals.  

Also, I have a couple of opened bags with about 1/5th of the compost still remaining and unused.  One was opened in February and some of the soil has a white substance on the side that is in contact with the bag.  Is this still ok to use?




  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 19,963

    I never empty my pots completely, cost a fortune in compost! I top up the top few inches with fresh compost and add slow release fertiliser.

    I've used old compost like yours, mixed up well and it was OK.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,718

    I add old compost to borders as a mulch or add it too the compost heap.

    Klu Klux Klan serve hot soul food
    Whilst the band plays In the Mood
  • I also add it to my borders or compost heap. It might be deplete of nutrients but it serves as a soil improver

  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    I am taking my tulips out now all green has gone and drying off till November.  The remining compost will then be sown with bee friendly annuals for the summer and autumn. After they have died down the whole potful will go on the compost and new compost used for the new tulips.  The old tulips will go in the borders or the prairie planting in the spinney.  Yes, gardening can be expensive buying compost, seeds, bulbs and plants but the returns are hundred fold.  Reuse everything possible and try the William Morris principle in the garden - have nothing in it which you do not know to be useful or consider beautiful.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,370

    I use fresh compost for the tomatoes each year, and then in October I rejuvenate it with a handful of fertiliser and use it to grow spring bulbs in pots for the patio. When they are done I empty it on the compost heap, which then gets use to top dress the borders.

  • Some really good tips here - thank you one and all! 

    And from one happy to another, thank you Marion for reminding us of the William Morris principle.  Your garden sounds delightful.  I too bought some packets of bee friendly annuals and was wondering if this week is going to be too late to sow them.  I'm up in North Yorkshire so won't have as long as some people before the first frosts.

    I've got cream and peach nasturtiums, blue nigella and peach sorbet double californian poppies, or eschscholzias, which is the name I grew up with.  Do these poppies do best in sun and poor soil?

  • They are best in sun, though I (and the insects) prefer the single ones. I gow the single californian poppies in my back garden and let them seed freely - which be warned they will - so if you're a regimental gardener you'll have your work cut out for years to come. I think they're a welcome addition. Not sure if the double ones self-seed though.

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