Making Compost With Cottonseed Meal

Overview

Cottonseed meal is a byproduct of the cotton industry and is often used as high-nitrogen mulch. Because cottonseed meal is filled with nitrogen, it is considered an organic green compost material suitable for use in a compost pile. Cottonseed meal will compost slowly over time through cold composting if you simply put it in a pile and leave it to decompose, but to make and use compost quickly, mix cottonseed meal with organic brown compost materials such as pine bark, dead leaves or straw in a hot compost process.

Step 1

Collect nitrogen-rich organic green compost material such as cottonseed meal, kitchen scraps and grass clippings, and carbon-filled organic brown material that includes dead leaves, straw and sawdust.

Step 2

Cut down your kitchen scraps to one square inch, using kitchen shears. Cut down grass clippings and straw with a lawn mower. Compost one inch or smaller will break down faster.

Step 3

Layer organic green and organic brown compost material into a compost bin in alternating layers. Your brown material layers must be twice as thick as green material layers. Wet each layer as you pile them into the bin with a garden hose so that your compost is uniformly as damp as a wrung-out sponge throughout the pile.

Step 4

Pour one cup of finished compost into the compost bin to activate the raw compost pile.

Step 5

Insert a cooking thermometer into the center of the pile daily. The pile should remain between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the pile so that the contents in the center shift to the outside of the pile any time the temperature drops below 120 degrees.

Step 6

Sift through your compost when the pile is reduced mostly to loamy consistency. Separate the large chunks of compost from the loam. Return the large chunks to the compost bin. Set aside the loam to cure for another six weeks. The curing process turns unfinished compost into finished compost by giving the microbes inside the compost time to become inactive.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use unfinished compost directly on your plants. The active microbes in unfinished compost will kill the roots by trying to break them down like compost.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Grass clippings
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Dead leaves
  • Straw
  • Sawdust
  • 1 cup finished compost
  • Lawn mower
  • Kitchen shears
  • Garden hose
  • Pitchfork
  • Cooking thermometer

References

  • National Cottonseed Products Association: Beautiful Gardens with Cottonseed Meal a Slow Release Organic Fertilizer
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Backyard Composting
  • Ohio State University Extension: Composting at Home

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M Extension: Compost
Keywords: cottonseed meal compost, how to compost, what to compost

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."