Compost is the richest fertilizer you can use. And it is FREE,
if you can make it yourself. You don't need to buy commercial fertilizers when you use this
"natural one." Compost results for decaying organic material like leaves, grass,
or kitchen scraps. Although compost can be made in an open pile, you'll get faster
results if you use a bin. Nature does the work for
you. All you have to do is provide the right environment of heat, moisture, air, and
materials for the organisms in the compost pile.
If you live in an area which has cold winters, the spring
is the best time to start the compost pile. If not, you can work your compost any time when
there is a supply of grass clippings and other organic material. In all climates,
summer is the perfect time for composting. Most gardeners find that they can make
several batches during the summer.
Compost is not soil, but when mixed in your planting areas,
it improves your soil. You will see changes in texture & fertility. Compost will
loosen clay soils and it will help sandy soils retain water. The organic matter
provided in compost provides food for many different organisms, including fungi, bacteria,
insects and worms. This decay of organic material keeps the soil in a healthy
well-balanced condition with the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which is produced
Almost any organic material can be used in the compost
pile. Two types of organic material is needed: carbon-rich materials "browns,"
and nitrogen-rich materials "greens." Include brown materials like dried leaves, straw, saw
dust and wood chips. Include fresh or green materials such as grass clippings and kitchen
scraps. Quick list of what goes in and what stays out.
List of Brown & Green Materials.
Composting Learning Resources & Supplies
There is no single "right" compost technique. There are
several variations based upon some basic principles of aerobic decomposition. The technique
you start with may be modified as you gain experience. Keep it simple, convenient, and
suited to your lifestyle.
Do not use ashes from the barbeque, animal by-products
(meat scraps, grease, bones), milk or dairy products, dog or cat droppings, cardboard or
diseased plants. Certainly don't add yard wastes that be treated with chemicals.
When in doubt DO NOT ADD IT.
When the compost is "done" mix it liberally into new
planting areas and also around existing plants. Most successful gardeners perform this
task once or twice a year. Treat composting as an art and not a pure science.
All organic matter breaks down eventually, no matter what you do. A bit more brown
is a good rule. You will find that you learn by doing. With time you will
discover what works best for you.