Friday, March 19, 2010

What is Organic Compost?

As we are preparing our soil for growing vegetables organically, it is important that we add organic matter to the soil as it is turned.  Organic compost is the most commonly used form of organic matter.  Some gardeners prefer to buy their own compost, while other prefer to make it.  Compost is made from a variety of things. (see below)  Let's look at a few general tips for making your own compost:

  • Composting requires proper oxygen.  You should turn your pile 2-3 times a month.
  • Moisture is required of effective decomposing.  If there is little rainfall in your area, you should water the pile.  
  • Larger materials, such as tree branches, should be shredded.  Smaller particles breakdown at a quicker rate.  
  • Temperature plays a key role in material breakdown.  The cooler the weather the slower the process will be.  High temperature also plays a role in destruction of weed seeds and disease.  
Common materials for organic compost include:
  • Leaves
  • Animal manures
  • Grass clippings
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Tree limbs
  • Sawdust
  • Coffee grounds
Once compost in ready, it is applied to the area through a process that is called mulching.  Mulching serves several purpose for growing vegetables organically.  We will take a look at mulching in the next article in this series.

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