Spring is here and folks all around are starting their vegetable gardens. I can hardly wait for the farmer's markets to open with all of the fresh veggies proudly displayed on tables behind each grower's truck.
Spring is here and folks all around are starting their vegetable gardens. I can hardly wait for the farmer's markets to open with all of the fresh veggies proudly displayed on tables behind each grower's truck. I will be looking for the ones that have been organically grown; no pesticides and no herbicides!
This is a good time of year to begin thinking about composting. This is Part One of the benefits of Composting. If you do not already compost, there are several reasons to begin and a couple of options to get the job accomplished. Next week, Part Two will cover the different methods to compost.
First of all, why compost? Putting compostable materials in a pile or bin greatly reduces what goes in a landfill. You would be amazed at all of the things that could be composted that you are probably throwing away. (Between recycling and composting, you could reduce the amount of actual trash you put out for collection by at least 75 percent.) Imagine if everyone both composted and recycled what fewer landfills we would need.
Second, the organic matter you put in your compost decomposes differently than if put in a landfill.
Compost makes fertilizer. So, while you are growing your wonderful vegetables, enjoying your native flowers, lush green lawn, and other plantings you can treat them to your homemade fertilizer! Best of all, it is free!
Compost also makes a more superior fertilizer. Because compost is made from a variety of plant materials, it makes a more nutrient-dense fertilizer than just raw animal manure; it also gives longer lasting results than synthetic fertilizers, or manure. Also, because of the plant materials in compost, it reduces the tendency for clay soils to crust over, which can interfere with seed emergence. Compost adds organic matter back into soil helping break up heavy clay and compacted soils. Composted fertilizer quickly helps restore 'sour' soils.
What makes compost work is the high temperature generated during the composting process. These temperatures kill weed seeds, insect pests and disease-causing bacteria and reduce the odors associated with animal manure.
Compost feeds biotic communities in soils and increases overall biological activity. Dig up any area that has had compost added and you will find a much greater number of earthworms. Earthworms aerate the soil; their waste is an incredible fertilizer in itself, as are their castings. All of these elements combined, increases nutrient cycling and boosts plant health.
Because compost fertilizer conditions the soils, adds nutrients, grows more vigorous plants, and suppress various root diseases, it can help plants better tolerate insect attacks.
Composting is organic fertilizer at its finest. It is an antidote to the toxicities of pesticides and herbicides, and accelerates the effectiveness of biologically based growing methods. Compost helps growers transition from chemical to organic farming more effectively. As soils improve, less compost is required.
You would be amazed at all the things you can put in your compost. You do not need an expensive composting bin, either. There are several different ways to set up composting in your backyard. These will be covered in Part Two next week. Until then, think Spring GREEN!
Lynn Youngblood is a Kansas City-based naturalist.
who writes for Gatehouse Media.