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Can You Reuse Seedling Compost

Part of being a gardener is growing your own food and plants along with respecting the Earth and all the natural growing material it provides. Humans should take advantage of every bit of earthly matter they can when it comes to growing. If you are like most gardeners, you probably have some old compost laying around from seedlings you grew last year. The idea of throwing it out when it could possibly be recycled is painful. Now you may be wondering, can you reuse seedling compost?

You can reuse seedling compost if it’s properly cared. If your seedlings grew healthily and efficiently, then the compost you used was properly packed with good nutrients. If they were sickly or didn’t live, that is a sign that you will have to manually replenish your compost with good nutrients.

It is safe to say that old seedling compost will need some sort of revival to guarantee that it’s suited to growing again, but it’s a fairly simple process.  

Continue reading to learn about reusing and recycling old seedling compost and how to replenish it with the nutrients it may need to grow life successfully once again.

Ways To Revive Old Compost

  • Simply throw it back into your compost bin. Compost bins are typically made up of kitchen scraps such as fruits and vegetables, weeds, clippings, old plants, and animal manure. These components are packed with nutrients and will mix with your old compost to make it fresh and nutrient-dense again. 
  • If you have access to manure from either your own farm or a local farm, add that to your compost. Manure is naturally rich in many vitamins and minerals and could be exactly what you need to enhance your old compost.
  • Mix your old compost with newly processed compost. If you have compost that’s ready to be used, mix it with the old to up the quantity while still maintaining the quality. If you don’t have your own compost, ask a neighbor or search the internet for someone looking to sell theirs. 
  • Add a nutrient-dense fertilizer to your old compost. This could include bone, blood, or kelp meal. You could also check your local home and garden stores for a well-balanced fertilizer that will revive used compost. 
  • Add a natural element such as rock dust to your old compost. It will give it just the right amount of minerals and nutrients to revive your old compost and improve circulation and restore the old structure.

Are There Any Plants That Thrive in Used Compost?

Interestingly enough, carrots grow very well in used compost. Many gardeners recommend using only aged compost to fertilize their carrots. Old compost contains a much lower level of nitrogen, which benefits carrots.

Excess amounts of nitrogen will cause the roots of the carrots to fork and the foliage to grow out of control. Your plants will yield much smaller carrots if the growth is promoted into the foliage instead of the carrots themselves. 

Ways To Recycle And Reuse Old Compost

  1. Add a thin layer of used compost to the surface of your lawn. Not only does it add good nutrients to make it healthier, but it also supports the grass’s drainage system. Better drainage means that you won’t get as much pooling from excessive amounts of rain, and your lawn won’t be at risk for flooding or overwatering.
  2. Since old compost needs to be revived before it can be the primary nutrient source, try sprinkling some as mulch over the soil in your garden. The leftover nutrients in the compost will aid in the growth of your garden. Also, having a layer of mulch over the soil will help prevent weed growth. 
  3. As in the reviving process, mixing your old compost with fresh, nutrient-dense compost will make it more suitable. You can also add old seedling compost to new potting soil or seed starting mix. It will help boost the growth of your potted plants and seedlings. Fill the bottom of your pots or seed starting containers with a decent layer of the compost, and then pour your new potting soil or seed starting mix over it. 
  4. If you are experiencing an unlevel garden, use old seedling compost to even it out. Use compost with a shovel in any holes or low spots, and then pack it down. 
  5. If you have a farm or animals, use old compost as a bedding layer in your chicken coop, horse stalls, or other animal pens. It’s a good flooring material that will also pair well with the added animal manure to create nutrient-dense compost that can be used in future growing seasons. 
  6. Apply a layer of used compost to the surface of your container gardens or seed starts as a mulch. Old compost retains the moisture in the soil and allows seeds to germinate properly. 

Tip: Ensure that you always protect your used compost, especially if you are planning on reviving it, recycling it, or reusing it later. Place it in an airtight container or box and out of the rain. It can’t be successfully reused if it’s too washed out from the rain. A sheltered or covered area would be the best place to store your container of used compost.


Overall, do not waste your used seedling compost. There are so many ways to use them and benefit your farm or future gardens. There is something so satisfying and rewarding about reusing and recycling compost that has already aided in growing your crops and then reviving it to provide a harvest.

It’s truly the cycle of life. Next time you are ready to transfer your seedlings to a garden bed or container, think twice before you throw out your used seedling compost. It can benefit you for years to come. 

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