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Composting

What is compost?

Compost is a mixture of organic residues such as leaves and brush that have been piled and allowed to undergo aerobic biological decomposition. The decaying matter is used as a soil amendment.

You can use compost as a mulch for plants or mix in a hold for new plantings. Compost can also be mixed with some sand an soil to form potting soil for growing potted plants. You can also spread compost on your yard for your grass.


Why use compost? Compost does the following:

  • Provides nutrients plants need
  • Improves microbial activity that helps release soil nutrients for plant use
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers that are costly and potentially damaging to the environment
  • Increases the amount of organic carbon and nitrogen by improving the physical properties of soil, allowing higher nutrient intake by plants and higher crop yields
  • Improves soil structure, porosity and density, making tillage easier, thus creating a better plant root environment
  • Increases water-holding capacity of the soil, thus reducing water loss and leaching in sandy soils
  • Increases moisture infiltration and permiability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff
  • Aerates soil, breaks up clay, and binds sand
  • Degrades pollutants and neutralizes toxins
  • Improves and stabilizes soil pH
  • Supplies beneficial micro-organizms to soils and growing media, thus controls or suppresses certain soil-borne plant pathogens
  • Can stabalize steep slopes and is capable of filtering and binding pollutants from storm water

How do you make compost?

You can use compost in your own garden. By making compost yourself, you can reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. Composting also reduces the amount of water you need on your plants and saves you from using harsh chemicals to help your garden grow. There are several options for how to make compost at home. You can use bins or tumblers, or Basket Composting, described by the City of McAllen's Composting Coordinator, Roy Custudio:

Basket compost can be used immediately without waiting for 3-4 months as in other methods of composting. Here are the materials you need:

  • At least 36’’ X 12” Hardware cloth (1/4”)
  • 3 or 4 fence ties or one 1-foot long fine tie wire
  • Home organic garbage, farm and garden wastes, and leguminous leaves
  • Garden Soil for the top

Construction of Baskets

  • Cut the hardware cloth into 36” X 12”
  • Connect both ends of the hardware cloth with at least one inch overlapping, and then form it round.
  • Tie both ends with fence tie or tie wire.
  • Dig holes along the center of the bed at least 15cm in depth and 30cm in diameter.
  • Space the holes one yard apart.
  • Put the basket in the hole at least half buried as shown...

Addition of Organic Wastes

  • Put the most decomposed garbage and manure into the basket first.
  • Add the non-decomposed materials like leguminous leaves, grasses.
  • Fill up to the edge with other organic wastes.
  • Matured compost or dirt can be added to speed up decomposition.

Planting, Care and Maintenance

  • Plant the seeds or seedlings around the basket at least 15-20cm away from the basket to prevent burning the plant from the decomposing materials.
  • Water the seedlings while young. Then later, just water the basket. The plant roots will later move toward it.

Incorporation of Decomposed Materials into the Soil

  • After harvesting, composts are already used-up. Remove the decomposed materials from the basket then add them into the soil while cultivating.
  • Add new composting materials to the basket for the next plants.

Where can I buy compost?

It is best to use compost made with local materials. If you cannot make compost at home, check out the McAllen Composting Facility.

The Composting Facility has been producing compost and mulch since 2004, and has earned numerous recognitions for their Class A Compost which is a mixture of ground brush and green waste collected in McAllen.

You can find the McAllen Composting Facility at 15201 N. 29th St. in McAllen. For more information, click here: McAllen Composting Facility or call (956) 681-4050.


Download your own Compost Signage

This is the signage we use at Quinta Mazatlan. Feel free to use it with your home composting system!

Compost Stage 1 Feed Me.pdf

Compost Stage 2 Wait.pdf

Compost Stage 3 Go.pdf

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Quinta Mazatlan

600 Sunset Drive
McAllen, TX 78504

(956) 681-3370

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