Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Compost: Nature’s Organic Plant Food

Photo: normanack, on Flickr
Ah compost, one of nature’s many valuable gardening resources. I love compost and I use it in my vegetable garden every year whether it’s from my backyard compost pile or composted manure from the farm. There are many reasons why you too should use compost.

What Exactly is Compost?

Compost, as defined by Princeton University, is “a mixture of decaying vegetation and manure; used as a fertilizer.” Vegetation can be anything from leaves and grass clippings to kitchen scraps. Manure of course, is usually cow or horse or mix of the two as is the case on my family’s farm.

Both vegetation and manure are organic materials which break down naturally in a compost pile. The end result is beautiful, dark soil full of nutrients that plants love to feed on. Telling the difference between compost and screened loam is all about the smell; compost has a forest-like smell to it.

Benefits of Compost

Compost has lots of great benefits and they are noticeable. To get the most out of compost, apply it to the garden in late fall before the ground freezes. This allows nutrients to work their way into the soil and replenish it come spring and summer.

Compost isn’t a one shot deal. What do I mean? Compost releases its nutrients over time, feeding your garden throughout the entire growing season. Here’s a list of additional benefits in case you need more convincing.

  • Great for Amending Sandy and Clay Soil
  • Helps Retain Moisture in Soil
  • Produces Healthier Plants
  • Produces Fruits and Vegetables with More Nutrients
  • Helps Soil Retain Nutrients Longer
  • Releases Beneficial Organisms
  • Cuts Down on Pests
  • Reduces Need for Pest Control

So there you have it, the many benefits of using compost in the garden. For more information on how to make and use your own compost, check out this Homeowners’ Composting Guide. 

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