You've heard it time and time again, add compost to your garden for better soil. But what is it? And why should you be adding it to your garden?
Compost is a mixture of once living material that is decomposed by organisms like insects and microbes, enabling the nutrient compounds to be used by living plants. Increasing your organic matter has all sorts of benefits. It increases soil drainage and water capacity, reduces soil compaction, and provides an organic source of nutrients.
There is no man made material that can match the benefits of good organic matter. In areas of high agricultural production like the Pacific Northwest you will find high concentrations of naturally occurring organic matter. This is what causes the soil to appear so dark and “fluffy” in appearance compared to other areas.
The properties of reduced soil compaction and moisture retention create ideal growing conditions for healthy plants and crop production as root systems are able to have adequate room to expand and take up nutrients.
How to Compost?
- Buy or build a bin about 3ft x 3ft
- Add green organic materials like plants, fruit and vegetables and their peelings, and kitchen waste (excluding all meat products as they can lead to harmful pathogen populations in your compost).
- Layer the green organic materials with brown materials like newspaper, leaves, and wood chips/shreds/dust as available.
- Keep your compost pile moist and aerated by turning the pile every 2-4 weeks. During the winter months you will want to turn your pile less often as it will take longer for the center to build up heat.
- Depending on the size of your pile and the materials used the compost should be ready to use in a matter of a few weeks up to a year.
To start getting the benefits of compost today, try our Worm Castings. Worm castings are the byproduct of worms decomposing organic materials. The best part of using worm castings is that they are a clean, nearly odorless gardening manure compost that can be used in place of smellier, messier cow manures. It is also more convenient than keeping your own earthworms for gardens! Use worm castings for both indoor and outdoor plants.
About the Author
I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.
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Good Day, We live in Zimbabwe and during the past year we have been making compost largely out of lush green growing Tithonia plants. You pull them out of the ground with soil still attached to the root mass. Shake this soil off onto previously laid Tithonia and other green material plants. Every so often put a layer of manure or previously produced mature compost as an activator. When the compost heap is about 1 metre high, cover with a previously produced compost layer and let Nature take its course. Last summer these heaps were decomposing within a month to 6 weeks into beautiful, fresh smelling, usable compost. I was amazed. And of course in most areas Tithonia is an alien invasive plant so you are converting a problem into a garden nutrition solution.
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