Composting 101


Photo by AdobeStock/fotofabrika 

Everyone likes something that is free and we gardeners are no exception. If you are like me, you have heard about composting, sort of know what it is, not real sure how to make it, so probably haven’t tried it. Being in the midst of fall leaves, I decided that this was the year to take advantage of this “free” nutrient for soils.

I think what scared me off before is that compost isn’t just compost. There is hot compost, cold compost and then there is leaf mold. Yea, this all can be a little intimidating.

By definition, composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter like leaves and table scraps into fertilizer. Anything that grows decomposes eventually and composting is a process that speeds it up by providing the ideal environment for bacteria, fungi and other decomposing organisms like worms, sowbugs and nematodes to do their work. The end result is decomposed matter that looks like fertile garden soil.

Compost allows us to divert waste from landfills and turn it into something useful and also helps to minimize methane emissions form landfills. Garden waste and food scraps make up more than 28 percent of what we throw away. At the same time, it improves soil health and lessons erosion. This “black gold,” how famers refer to compost, can be used by agriculture, horticulture and gardeners.

Types of composting

Cold composting, also known as passive composting, breaks down organic matter slowly but also takes the least amount of effort and maintenance. Anything organic decomposes naturally. This method lets Mother Nature do her job with little interference. No need to worry about the ratio of compost ingredients, aerating regularly or checking moisture levels.

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