There was a tall metal swing in one corner of my backyard when I was growing up. Like many things at home, it was not store-bought; my dad made it himself with long steel poles, yards of chain and a few flat boards. I spent many hours there as a kid, thinking, planning, dreaming, sometimes plotting. Behind the swing, tall evergreens lined the corner to hedge out the neighbors. Stuck among them was a small compost pile.
Out of sight, out of mind, yet it became part of my being. Only recently have I remembered my dad working the compost. Still, all these years it never occurred to me not to have a compost pile.
- Compost improves soil structure and texture.
- Compost helps sandy soil retain moisture and gives better drainage to clay soils.
- Compost adds both basic and micronutrients to the soil. Most commercial fertilizers include only the basic three: NPK, leaving the soil vacant of important micronutrients.
- Compost helps balance soil ecology by encouraging earthworms and beneficial microorganisms that enrich the soil.
- Compost invigorates plants, helping them to fend off pests and disease.
A household might accumulate as much as 200 pounds of leaves and 300 pounds of weeds and landscape trimmings a year, not to mention all the “good” garbage from the kitchen such as fruit and vegetable trimmings. All this is potential “gardener’s gold” or compost. And it’s so easy.
- Pick a location. Easy access to garden and part sun is best. An ideal pile is at least 3x3x3. Some gardeners, including me, have three piles: one “active” accepting garden waste, one “resting” as it decomposes into gold, and one “ready” to use.
- Provide the ingredients:
- Brown carbon sources such as dry leaves and small twigs.
- Green nitrogen sources such as weeds and kitchen scraps.
- An occasional shovelful of manure or soil to add the decomposers.
Fall is an ideal time to stat composting. For more info: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.html
Got a gardening question or a tip to share? Contact Lynn at Lynn@IndianaLivingGreen.com