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Friday, May 26, 2006

Let's make compost 

Black gold, rich fuel. No I'm not talking about oil. I'm referring to compost, the stuff of legend your garden craves. People are starting their vegetable gardens now or are in the process of adding new annuals, perennials and shrubs. Many times the first thing they reach for after planting is fertilizer. Then they see insects and grab the pesticide. Compost is a much more effective fertilizer and is actually a great boon to insect control as well. It is comprised of a variety of yard waste, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Wood chips, sawdust and leaves are also usually included; meat products should not be added.

Compost conditions the soil enabling it to better hold air and water, drain more efficiently, and feed nutrients to the plants. Soil amended with compost usually produces plants with fewer insect and disease problems by encouraging a larger population of beneficial soil microorganisms that control harmful ones.

Compost is not only good for our plants but it also helps manage environmental concerns. Waste disposal has been and continues to be even more of an issue as landfills are maxed out. Many waste companies are either refusing to take yard waste or are charging extra to do so as it already takes up approximately 30% of filled space.

Anybody can compost. All that's needed is a small area for a bin (homemade or purchased), water, air, some organic material and the desire. Spending a small amount of time each week can help the environment while at the same time improving your soil and the health of your plants. So, who composts? On a larger scale, these students have started Project Compost using 700 to 1000 pounds of food waste from various sources on their campus daily. Then there is the NY City Compost Project, Washington State University Compost Team, and Maine even has a Compost School. There's even more to learn through the US Composting Council. Here at home we've started composting, how about you? Happy Gardening.

If you add sawdust to a compost pile, be sure you know the source of the sawdust. Many types of lumber are treated with chemicals and you don't want to add that to your compost.

Also, unless you add a lot of nitrogen (like grass clippings) sawdust can really slow down the decomposing.
Great post! I currently live in Washington State, and with all the bugs and slugs, composting here is pretty easy.

I've had a compost bin with specifically grass clippings before. It makes a nice, dark, soil.

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