About the SFMGA

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Garden Gold

The single most important thing the home gardener can do for his garden is to learn how to compost. Continually adding compost to the home garden

  • Increases its water-holding capacity
  • Invigorates the soil food web
  • Increases plant nutrients
  • Aids in plants' ability to respond to insects and diseases
  • Detoxifies the soil

Compost is the product is the product of a controlled biological process that decomposes organic material in rapid fashion. Speed is the difference in the way man and nature create the same thing. Nature mulches over a long time. Man creates compost by controlling the natural mulching process in a short time.


Worms Eat My Garbage, Mary Appelhof, Flowerfield Enterprises, 2006

The process begins with vegetable material that is broken down by the biological process. Carbon-heavy materials like straw, leaves, newspaper, and sawdust are balanced with nitrogen-heavy materials like manures (herbivore only), grass clippings, or food waste. These materials are best mixed in a ratio of 3 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen by volume. Composting will occur best in some sort of structure such as heaps, piles, bins, or barrels.

The compost process requires several other things to be successful:

  • Air – turning over the compost in its structure is essential. Air is circulated and particles are broken up.
  • Moisture – some moisture exists in the materials being composted, but adding a little more to ensure an even level of moisture throughout is a good practice.
  • Particle size – the smaller, the better. Materials should be no larger than two inches. Shedding materials is a good practice that shortens the time it takes to compost completely.

This article provided courtesy of the Fayette County Master Gardeners, Lexington, KY