Some call it compost but I call it “black gold.” Why? We gardeners call it “black gold,” because it is so rich in nutrients and adds so much value when it is added to your soil. When you are a serious gardener and want the best possible plants and vegetables, this dark, rich dirt called compost provides a balanced, slow–release source of nutrients for your plants.

You have two choices for getting a supply of compost. You can buy it or you can make your own. I like to make my own for several reasons. First, you save a lot of money because you do not have to buy the bags of already made compost at your garden center. Second, you will reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals for fertilizers because your garden soil will not need it. Third, you will help the environment. Yard and food waste make up almost a third of the waste we create in our homes. Composting your garbage and yard waste will help divert it from the town landfill and any nearby waterways.

Lastly, the most important reason is the quality that your vegetables will obtain from the soil. The nutrient rich soil will make better plants and vegetables that will taste better and make you healthier by eating them.

What is Composting?

Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil. Just about anything that was once alive will decompose. All good soil you see is the result of the composting process. Composting in your yard is nothing more than an acceleration of the same process that nature uses. When you compost your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into your soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Once you see the results you will notice finished compost looks like rich, dark soil – all crumbly and smelling like the forest floor.

How To Compost

It is not too complicated to compost. All you need are four things.

1. Organic yard waste like grass, straw, leaves, twigs and pine needles. (Be sure that your grass does not have chemicals or pesticides on it.)
2. Green matter such as kitchen waste or old, dying plants. Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
3. Soil or dirt.
4. Water.

Depending on your location and situation, you can just pile the compost on the ground, place it in a holding cage, or place it in a sealed bin. I use a sealed bin because it is neater and prevents any animals from getting into it. It also retains the heat that allows for faster breakdown. But, if you do nothing more than make a compost pile in the corner of your garden that will work too.

Once you have your container, place the yard waste in the bin, pen or pile, add the kitchen waste and mix in the dirt. Add water and mix it all up. You want the materials to be damp but not wet. As you add more kitchen waste, be sure to add some more water and other materials and mix that up. Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.

If you keep mixing the pile after a few months you will start to see the results. Starting a compost pile in the spring will create some rich compost by the fall.

Remember, it is not complicated. Since I started composting, we have reduced the amount of kitchen waste in our house from two bags to one, and you can do the same.
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