How to Compost With Cotton Seed Meal


Cotton seed meal is readily available in many parts of the country. It can be used directly as a soil amendment, or put into the compost pile to provide a nitrogen boost. It is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, along with many minor elements. A small amount or a few pounds can be tossed and mixed into a compost pile like other green ingredients. If it is the primary green ingredient, other steps are taken while building the pile. There is disagreement over whether or not cotton seed meal should be considered an organic product. According to the Organic Crop Improvement Association, the potential for pesticide residues places it in a restricted category.

Step 1

Fill the bin with an initial 6-inch layer of dampened straw, leaves or other brown material. Add a 2-inch layer of cotton seed meal to the brown material. Spread a thin layer of completed compost or garden soil onto the meal. Use a garden fork or shovel to stir together.

Step 2

Add another three layers of browns, meal and compost starter, and mix again.

Step 3

Continue adding layers until the material reaches the top of the bin.

Step 4

Check the temperature of the pile after a few days to ensure it is heating up. If not, check the dampness and see if feels dryer than a wet sponge. If so, add some water to the pile, and check the temperature again when two days pass.

Step 5

Mix the pile with a fork after three or four weeks. Move the material from the outside to the middle. By this time, the pile should have shrunk by at least 1/3 of its original size.

Step 6

Mix the pile again every four weeks, and maintain the proper moisture level if you desire fast compost. If not, let it set and it will compost by itself over about six months. The compost is completed when it no longer heats up, and the various brown materials have lost their shape and definition. The remaining material should be crumbly, sweet smelling and dark brown.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton seed meal
  • Organic brown material, such as leaves or straw
  • Leftover compost, garden dirt or other source of composting microorganisms
  • Composting bin, preferably about 4-feet in width, length and height


  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: Cottonseed Meal for Fertilizer?
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service: Compost
  • The Laptop Gardener: A Formula for Compost

Who Can Help

  • How to Compost
Keywords: composting cotton seed, cotton seed compost, cottonseed meal compost

About this Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980. He has written for "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. Burton managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. He has a Bachelor of Science in broadcasting from John Brown University, and retired from the Navy Reserve in 1999.