Compost, Life Support for Organic Gardening

Composting is an activity that ever organic gardener should be practicing. If this is something that you have been thinking of but have been putting off, there is no time like now to get with it. It is easy and simple and you can make it from organic waste that you would end up throwing away.

Although the method is the same, most everyone has there own particular style. You can choose to do in a pit out behind the barn or in an ornate bin at the back of your garden. It can be a prefabricated unit that you have purchased at a local gardening supply store or made out of old cinder blocks, bricks or wood that you have laying around. There is no right or wrong choice, it is only a matter of personal preference and budget.

What is Compost?

It is the end result of a process of organic material that has been decomposed by aerobic bacteria into a useable form for organic gardening. It is a natural fertilizer, soil conditioner and great source of humus. It also helps to repopulate the soil with diverse species of microorganisms vital for plant growth and reproduction. It is just another way of saying "organic matter". Every organic gardening book worth it's salt, will at some point get around to telling you that you are going to need to add it on a regular basis. The reason why is because your plants are using it up. In order to build and maintain optimum health of the soil, you are going to have to add some kind of organic matter on a regular basis.

Low Organic Matter Level
The first time most people become aware of organic matter is when they get the results of their soil test and wonder how they are going to raise a low reading. At first you may have purchase a commercially available product to get your soil balanced, however with a little thought and a plan you can easily make your own. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of well intentioned people throw in the towel.

Nutrient Depletion?
No matter what the crop is that you are growing, from beans to Bermuda, it is eventually going to deplete the soil of nutrients, minerals and trace elements. Logic dictates that these must be replaced or the soil will deteriorate until it is dead and lifeless. This is where the term "Farmed-Out" originated. Composting is the most effective method for remediation.

Just get started. At first you may have to buy retail products to get the ball rolling. But in time you will have learned to make your own with what you would normally throw in the trash.


Why Don't You Use the Stuff they Sell At X-Mart?
Beware of amending your soil with lifeless soil mixes. These are typically made with waste materials and toxic chemicals! Unless you like the thought of that stay away from the stuff being sold in bulk stores. No one knows exactly what's in the bag, where it came from, or even when it was packaged. That is why it is so cheap! You get what you pay for is especially accurate in this case.

I suggest calling your local nursery and asking what they carry along the lines of compost. Locally made amendments are always going to be cheaper because of freight costs and typically have higher populations of micro-organisms because they are fresher. If you call first you will save time and aggravation.


How To I do it?
There are only a few things to bear in mind when starting out. The main thing is aeration. The process is accomplished by aerobic microorganisms that break down organic materials and cause decomposition. It is generally recommended to turn you pile once a week or so using a shovel or pitchfork. This helps keep the process active and the pile from going rancid.

Your pile needs to be kept moist. When you first put your pile together you will have to water it with a hose or watering can because it is likely to be on the dry side. Keyword here is "moist" not soggy or water logged.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that your pile needs to have both green waste (high in nitrogen) and brown waste (high in carbon).
Some common examples of green waste are fresh cut grass clippings and weeds, coffee grounds and kitchen scraps such as potato peelings.
Examples of brown waste include shredded newspaper or cardboard, saw dust and wood chips or shavings. It is as simple as that. I highly recommend visiting my friends over at compost junkie for some excellent detailed information. Remember our motto for organic gardening? "It is a process - Not an event" The same applies for your pile. It will take several months for your pile to break down to a uniform consistency to be ready to mix with your soil. After becoming familiar with how your pile works you may very well be able to get two harvests. One that you add to your soil in the Spring and another that you can add in the Fall after harvest. Once you see how well your organic garden responds you will never be without it again.




What's Your Opinion?

What's your opinion? Did I miss something you think needs to be addressed? Did you find this content informative or did it make you start asking questions? Did it peeve you off? Then let it out here. I'd love to see it and so does everyone else.

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