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Question

Hi Rishi,

I ordered compost from a local compost company (Cal Blend Soils) and planted starters into it few weeks ago. They are not growing, but they are alive. They are not thriving 🙁 and the leaves on many are even yellowing. My friend who shared the delivery with me is having the same experience with her plants. What do you suggest we do? Should I purchase some kind of amendment?

Thanks for any information!!
Sylvia

Answer

Hi Sylvia,

Seems like you are having a common problem with compost that is available here in Southern California. Sadly, most of our compost suppliers produce and sell slightly un-finished compost. By unfinished, I mean that it is not completely broken down. If you buy compost and see a decent quantity of unbroken down wood chip material in the compost, then that compost could have sat and aged for a few more weeks. These un-decomposed wood chips will tie up the nitrogen in the compost, and keep it unavailable until the decomposition process has completed.

My suggestion to you would be to find or buy some kind of nitrogen rich material or fertilizer to increase the available nitrogen in the compost more immediately. Nitrogen rich material will also speed up the decomposition of any un-broken down materials. Examples of nitrogen rich materials you could use:

– Urine (your family’s or in the form of urine-soaked bedding from animals)
– A well decomposed nitrogen rich compost
– A high nitrogen fertilizer such as blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, fish meal, or liquid fish
– Any kind of herbivores manure (cow, goat, rabbit, sheep, etc.), although this may cause some other imbalances especially if uncomposted

I hope that helps!

-Rishi