Cotton burr compost home depot

What Is Cotton Burr Compost: How To Use Cotton Burr Compost In Gardens

Any gardener will tell you that you can’t go wrong with composting. Whether you want to add nutrients, break up dense soil, introduce beneficial microbes, or all three, compost is the perfect choice. But not all compost is the same. Many gardeners will tell you that the best stuff you can get is cotton burr compost. Keep reading to learn more about how to use cotton burr compost in your garden.

What is Cotton Burr Compost?

What is cotton burr compost? Usually, when cotton is harvested, the plant is run through a gin. This separates the good stuff (the cotton fiber) from the leftovers (the seeds, stems, and leaves). This leftover stuff is called cotton burr.

For a long

time, cotton farmers didn’t know what to do with the leftover burr, and they often just burned it. Eventually, though, it became clear that it could be made into incredible compost. The benefits of cotton burr compost are great for a few reasons.

Mainly, cotton plants famously use up a lot of nutrients. This means those beneficial minerals and nutrients are sucked out of the soil and up into the plant. Compost the plant and you’ll get all those nutrients back.

It’s very good for breaking up heavy clay soil because it’s coarser than some other composts, like manure, and easier to wet than peat moss. It’s also full of beneficial microbes and bacteria, unlike some other varieties.

How to Use Cotton Burr Compost in Gardens

Using cotton burr compost in gardens is both easy to do and excellent for plants. If you want to add it to your soil before planting, simply mix in 2 to 3 inches of compost with your topsoil. Cotton burr compost has so many nutrients that you may not have to add more for two growing seasons.

Many gardeners also use cotton burr compost as mulch. To do this, simply lay down an inch of compost around your plants. Water thoroughly and lay down a layer of woodchips or other heavy mulch on top to keep it from blowing away.

Using cotton burr compost – Knowledgebase Question

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!
Good questions. The concern over cotton waste compost has traditionally been regarding its arsenic content because cotton in some areas of the country was defoliated prior to harvesting with sprays containing this element. Arsenic can build up in the soil and can be taken up by plants. Arsenic is no longer allowed for such use and the newer products used for defoliating are quickly biodegradable. The composting process also eliminates other chemicals quite well. Cotton from the Texas high plains is defoliated by the early arrival of frosts there and thus defoliant sprays are generally not needed. A brand made from cotton in that area is Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost and is sold across the central and southeastern states.
Compost is good for the soil and for growing plants. I would consider your local cotton trash compost to be a good product for improving your gardens. If you want to learn more about the compost being made in your area I would ask them if they have run a complete nutrient analysis on the product and can provide a copy of the results. You can also take a sample and have an analysis done if you like. The state soil lab at A&M can provide such an analysis. Contact your local County Extension Office about how to have this done.
Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost

Healthy soil is said to consist of 45% minerals, 25% air, 25% water, 3% to 5% organic matter, and 1% live soil organisms. All of these ingredients are important, but most important are the organic matter and soil organisms. Without them, soil would be virtually sterile and incapable of sustaining plant life.

The organic content of soil is both a home and a food source for soil organisms. Without organic matter, these organisms will go dormant or die off. Organic matter also helps to conserve moisture and protect from temperature extremes.

In nature, it is the beneficial soil organisms in soil that convert the nutrients in minerals and organic matter to a form plants can use, provide aeration through their tunneling and keep harmful organisms in check. As an additional benefit, most soil organism’s have a short life cycle, and when they die, their bodies provide a rich source of additional nutrients.

Plant and soil experts universally agree that the number one solution to most soil and plant problems is the addition of organic matter in the form of compost. But which compost?

Any true compost is good. Problem is, most of the composts sold through discounters and mass merchandisers don’t deserve to be called “compost”. Many are made from discarded wood pallets and other shipping containers which may be contaminated with hazardous materials. The compost you make at home from your own yard and household waste is probably the best because it’s free and it’s a great way to recycle.

The best commercially produced compost is unquestionably Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost. Cotton bolls are the bud leafs of the cotton plant. They are rich in protein and are a natural, organic fertilizer with more nutrient than manures. When properly composted, cotton bolls/burrs are prized for their ability to break up clay soils and improve moisture retention and fertility in sand.

Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost is a rich, dark brown compost with a wonderful earthy smell. Its medium texture results in looser soil and improved moisture transpiration. It is long lasting, low in salts, free from weeds, insects, chemicals and pathogens and contains lots of beneficial organisms.

A good be mix is 1/3 Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost and 2/3rds native soil. It can also be applied as mulch in beds, or as a thin top dressing on lawns.

Back To Nature Cotton Boll Compost also helps to control fungal diseases in beds and turf and can produce dramatic results when applied ½” thick at the base of trees or plants in stress. Apply from the trunk to about 1’ beyond the drip line of the plant and water in.

A wonderful new Back To Nature Product is “Nature’s Blend”, a fine screened mix of composted cotton burrs & cattle manure with humate and alfalfa. Nature’s Blend’s fine texture makes it an ideal top dressing for lawns and for beds with existing plant material.

Back To Nature, Inc. is a member of the United States Composting Council. Our products have the USCC’s “Seal of Testing Assurance”.

Posted in: Summer | Tags: Planning Your Garden, Soil, Natural & Organic Gardening

Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost – 2 cu.ft.

Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost/Top Dressing and Mulch is made from 100% cotton burrs, a by-product of the ginning process. Mixing it into the soil, regardless of the type soil or the soil conditions, can rejuvenate soils that are low in organic matter, lighten heavy soils, and aid in moisture retention.

Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost is also an excellent top dressing and mulch.


Mulching: Spread 1″ to 3″ deep around the base of trees, shrubs, and plants. Mulch should be kept away from the stems of tender seedlings, and a few inches from the trunks of trees and shrubs.

Flower beds and vegetable gardens: Spread 2″-3″ deep over area to be planted and till in to a depth of 6″-8″, or lightly rake the product into the top 2″ soil. If area has already been planted, spread 1/2″ to 1″ over soil around plants. Water in thoroughly after application.

Trees and shrubs: Apply 1″ layer from trunk to drip line and water in. Keep a few inches clearance from trunk to start of compost.

Cotton burr compost performs best when mixed with the soil. Back to Nature does not recommend using this product straight or in soil-less mixes. This product contains NO chemicals, insects, weeds, or harmful pathogens. Tannins in compost may stain concrete.


Potato Garden

We love potatoes. Like corn, tomatoes and peppers, they are a family meal staple around our house. Potatoes are not that difficult to grow, but preparing the soil does take a bit of work. The toil is worth it in the long run. After waiting months for your tubers to grow, it’s a lot of fun for kids—and adults–to dig up a batch of potatoes.

One of my earliest childhood memories was digging for potatoes with my grandfather in Muskogee, Oklahoma. I was quite surprised to see them in the dirt and not growing on trees. I was barely three years old, but I still remember the image of red-skinned taters peeking through the dirt.

Me and Big Tom, 1959. My grandparents had a huge garden of corn, green beans, squash, berries, okra, potatoes and peppers. I have always tried to emulate his garden and I describe it my first novel Roads of My Relations (University of Arizona Press).

How To Grow Potatoes (My version—there are other ways to garden. See links at bottom of page.)

The site on the south side of our Kansas property where I alternate growing potatoes and the Three Sisters. I now have a greenhouse on this site.

You also can use smaller mounds, like above, or you can use a bag that drains, like below (I bought my bags at

1. First, prepare the soil in mid to late spring or in late summer (the potato plants don’t like to try and grow in hot months). They will be ready in 2-4 months. Pick a sunny, well-drained spot. I dug down two feet into the ground and thoroughly mixed that existing soil with sand, cotton burr compost (high in nutrients and helps to break up hard soil), and Miracle Grow potting soil.* Use enough of the additional soil materials to make 6-8 separate mounds about a foot high. Use a pitchfork to mix the material and a shovel to pile it.***

*You can purchase all of these materials at Home Depot or another large store that sells garden supplies. Nurseries are generally more expensive.

**Some growers simply lay their potato seed on the ground and cover with soil. That’s not the best way, but it may work for you.

You also can plant potatoes in a whiskey barrel or another large container that has drainage holes in the bottom.

Some prefer to use a stack of old tires and the plant the potatoes in the middle.

2. Pick your potato. We like Yukon Golds. Regardless of your choice, you should buy them from a nursery and not the grocery store (they often add growth inhibitor to the spuds). Locate the “eyes” on the potato skin (the eyes are the knotty growths you probably have noticed sprouting when you keep them in your kitchen too long), then cut your unpeeled potato into chunks (some call these chunks “seeds”), with at least two eyes on each piece.

3. Bury your chunks in the mounds with eyes “looking” upwards, about 4 inches deep. Some recommend 6 inches.

4. To combat weeds and grass, lay down black garden matting* between the mounds and secure at the corners with metal garden staples. Pour cedar or cypress mulch over the black mat. The mulch also keeps moisture in the soil.

*Sold in rolls at any store with gardening materials such as Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc. It is cheaper at these stores than at nurseries. See also this mat sold at,34-312,default,cp.html

5. Check to make sure that soil does not erode on the mounds. You may need to continually pile new soil onto the base of the plants so that your growing potatoes are always covered.

6. Make sure your plants get about 1 inch of water per week.

7. It is time to harvest the potatoes when the green stems fade, approximately 2-4 month after you plant the chunks. You may notice that some of the stems have small growths that look like little green tomatoes. This is how the plant reseeds. Although they look like tomatoes, don’t eat them.

8. When you decide to harvest the tubers, gently push the soil away from around the base of the stems with your gloved hands, then slowly pull the stems out of the ground. Don’t use a spade, shovel or pitchfork, since you’ll stab the potatoes and ruin them for storage. Take the tubers out with your hands. Some advise cutting the plants off at ground level about a week before removing tubers from the ground. It doesn’t matter to me; I usually find more hidden potatoes the week after the initial harvest anyway.

Mid-May, 2008. Three mounds were planted two weeks after the first four (I ran out of potatoes and had to search around town for more Yukons). Note the cedar mulch piled around the mounds. I first put down black garden cloth/matting to inhibit weeds and grass, then piled the mulch on top. Grass is very determined and you still have to pull it out constantly.

Late June 2008. Looking good (as do the invasive sunflower plants and grass), although some of the leaf tips are starting to yellow a bit.

July 20, 2008. The plants have pooped out.

Morning of July 20. We moved dirt away from the base of the plants with our hands, gently pulled them out of the ground and dug around in the dirt for hidden tubers.

Here are some of those Yukon Gold potatoes.

Nicely stored in a Nike shoebox. Gently wash your potatoes without damaging the skin, let them dry thoroughly, then store them in brown paper sacks or cardboard boxes in a cool place, such as the cement floor of a basement. Don’t let them get damp. You may need to get them off a damp floor and onto shelves or wooden slats. Also, do not store damaged potatoes; eat the ones that are cut, split or punctured after you harvest them. Wounded potatoes will quickly rot.


There are many sites in cyberspace that offer advice about growing potatoes. Check these out:

Grow potatoes in “tyres”:

Grow Potatoes in a Garbage Can:

Irish Eyes Garden Seeds:

Growing Sweet Potatoes:

Growing Potatoes (New Hampshire Extension):

U-Tube. Growing Potatoes No Dig

Video. Growing Potatoes with Charlie Dimmock

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