PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University compost facilities staff will use the up coming 5th Annual Palouse Empire Home and Garden Expo to provide gardeners with samples of compost available for the 2003 season.

This year the WSU compost facility has more than 8,000 cubic yards of compost available to wholesalers throughout the region.

“Many landscapers and garden supply retailers are anxious to again have our product available to their customers,” Dan Caldwell, Compost Operations Manager, said. WSU has not sold compost since 2000 when a herbicide was found in its compost and many area gardens were affected. WSU has corrected this situation through an established purchasing process that insures only clean feedstocks will come to the campus. Also, WSU meets or exceeds a weed seed and pathogen reduction process.

In addition, the university also puts its finished compost through a ¾ inch screen, ensuring a clean, uniform product, Caldwell said.

An important part of the composting program will be information about using compost that will be provided to everyone who purchases the WSU product. “We are asking our wholesalers to provide details about compost, and how to make best use of the product,” Caldwell said. “Using the proper amount of the product can make a successful garden.”

“Each batch of WSU compost is tested on plants for quality,” he said. “But using twice the amount will not improve the yield two-fold. In fact, as with any compost, over use may cause other growing issues.”

The university began composting in 1992. Two years later, a governor’s mandate called for a 50 percent reduction of organic materials in the landfill, and the composting facility began major efforts to use wastes from its livestock areas, the power plant and dining halls. In 1994 WSU began a campus-wide composting program, the first in the nation to do so. WSU uses between 2,000-4,000 cubic feet of compost annually on the Pullman campus, as bedding material and pasture application.

“Our product is very popular among professional gardeners,” Caldwell said. “We have learned a great deal about composting in the past 10 years. The product is rich and clean and excellent to work with.”