“…always remember that the compost pile is the foundation of a successful garden.” John Seymour, the Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It.
What is Compost?
A mixture of organic residues that have been piled, watered and are partially decomposed. It is a dark, easily crumbled collection of plant and animal products with many of the characteristics of humus, the relatively stable organic component of soils. (University of Tennessee)
Uses for Compost
- Ingredient for Potting Soil or Containers
- Ingredient of Seed Starting Mix
- Mulch or “side dressing” for plants
- Soil Amendment at planting time
- Layer or amendment for Lasagna Garden
- Amendment to Garden plot or beds
- To make Compost Tea
“I have the highest regard for composted organic matter as a long-term soil builder. Well-made compost has been shown to have plant-growing benefits far in excess of its simple “nutrient analysis” and to be an active factor in suppressing plant diseases and increasing plant resistance to pests. Producing quality compost is the most important job on the organic farm. A lot of the problems I see on farms I visit could be solved by making better compost. – Eliot Coleman, the New Organic Grower
- Soil Conditioner
Clay soils enriched with organic matter are improved in the following aspects:
– Root Penetration
– Water Infiltration
– reduced surface Crusting
– Water Availability to plants
- Fertilizer- Compost can be a natural “Organic” fertilizer.
Compost is a complete fertilizer, containing macro, secondary and micro nutrients. Compost has the added benefit of “slow release”, as microorganisms release essential plant nutrients as they break down organic matter. Compost can reduce or eliminate your need to purchase chemical fertilizers.
- Environmental or “Green” impact
Yard/garden and Food wastes make up about 25% of the residential solid waste stream. Yard & Garden wastes = 18 to 20% of landfill contents Negative impact of yard and garden wastes in the landfill:
- Space wasted to “dump” valuable organic material
- Methane gas: explosive, greenhouse gas
- Acidic Leachate: makes heavy metals more mobile
- Reduction of plant Diseases and Pests
Composting is a valuable part of a program to support biodiversity in your garden. Increased biodiversity is often a beneficial byproduct of an “organic” approach to gardening. By making your garden an environmentally sound and rich environment, you promote improved plant health and higher yields.
Composting in 5 Easy Step:
- Gather organic materials in a pile or container, at a convenient outdoor location.
- If dry, water the materials until they are evenly moist, but not saturated.
- Mix the materials “now and then” to aerate the ingredients. An active compost pile will get hot. (that’s good)
- Your compost is finished when it has a soil-like appearance and a pleasant “earthy” aroma.
- Mix the compost into your garden beds or planters, and enjoy your newly improved soil !!!.
University of Tennessee sources:
- Managing Landscape and Garden Wastes PB1578, Tom Samples, David W. Sams, and Neal Denton
- Making and Using Compost P&SS Info #238, David W Sams
- Composting Yard, Garden and Food Wastes PB1479, Tom Samples and Mark A. Nash
- On-Farm Composting of Poultry Litter P&SS Info #319, Forbes Walker
- Composting-USEPA, Dr. Warren Anderson, Master Gardener and MTSU Professor
- Klickitat County Solid Waste, Goldendale, WA 98620 www.klickitatcounty.org
- Reggie Reeves, rain barrel Compost Tumbler design