It’s spring planting season, and you’re itching to get out and get your hands dirty! Adding compost to your garden is a great way to improve your soil and increase your bounty. Here are some tips to get the most out of your plot.
Testing your soil
Before you begin, it’s always a good idea to test your soil. Urban soils can have contamination issues. Testing your soil will make you aware of existing contamination and help you make decisions about interacting with your soil based on the results. Testing your soil also gives you information about the amount of organic matter and nutrients available in your soil, which can inform how you manage your soil fertility over the years.
Neighbors Allied for Good Growth is hosting free soil testing workshops at the McCarren Park Greenmarket on May 6th and 13th. Bring your soil sample in a ziplock bag for testing by Urban Soils Institute. More info here
Additional testing services
Urban Soils Institute
Cornell Soil Health Testing Laboratory
University of Massachusetts
The Department of Sanitation and the NYC Compost Project produce high quality compost right here in NYC. Check out these opportunities to pick up or receive compost!
May Give Back Events
NYC Compost Project Hosted by NYBG/NYC Department of Sanitation
Saturday, May 13 • 11 am - 2 pm
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx
Sunday, May 21 • 9 am - 5 pm
Fresh Kills Headquarters
1010 Muldoon Avenue, Staten Island
Lehman College is opening their gates and offering public access to their compost operation. Compost will only be available to participants who are connected to community gardens, schools, and greening groups.
Registration is required
NYC residents can get up to 60 bags of free, high-quality compost! While DSNY staff will be present to assist residents, be prepared to physically lift and place bags of compost into your vehicle. Only vehicles registered to NYC addresses can pick up compost. More information
Compost Requests *Some restrictions apply.
All requests must be for community groups or residents working on public greening projects. Compost cannot be requested for commercial use. Compost must be picked on Fridays from 3pm-5pm.
All requests must be made by community groups or residents working on public greening projects. Compost cannot be requested for commercial or private use. Requested approved based on availability.
This program provides bagged compost to New Yorkers for NYC street trees, community gardens, or public greening initiatives. After your request is received, DSNY will contact you to schedule a delivery date. Please provide information about your site that may impact delivery services.
Amending your soil
Compost is a great way to improve the health of your soil. It provides structure and nutrients for vegetable gardens, lawn applications, potted plants, and street tree beds. But no matter where you are using the compost, you want to think long term.
Chemical fertilizers contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in a relatively pure form, which offers plants a quick jolt of nutrients. Whatever the plants can use is soaked up immediately, and any excess can wash away.
Compost contains the same nutrients fixed in stable organic compounds. Plants have to work a little harder to access the nutrients with the help of micro-organisms, but this allows them to gather nutrients as they need them. Since the nutrients are bound up in compost aggregates, they remain in the soil for longer periods. The result is a more controlled release of nutrients to the plants throughout the growing season and from one season to the next.
Because of this slow release of nutrients, we recommend that you add compost sparingly. You will build up the structure and health of your soil over many seasons. Here are our suggestions for compost application rates:
International Compost Awareness week is May 7th - 13th
Tune in to @NYCzerowaste for news and events
Stay up to date with compost in Western Queens and Northern Brooklyn @bigreuse