what is compost
What is compost, anyway? You have heard the term, and you know it’s good for plants, but why? This post will take a look at just what is composting, and why you want to do it (or at least use it).
What is Compost – Really?
The definition of compost, according to Wikipedia is, “aerobically decomposed remnants of organic matter”. The nice how-to article at Gardener’s Supply describes compost as, “Organic matter is transformed into compost through the work of microorganisms, soil fauna, enzymes and fungi.”
So in other words, composting recycles kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, grass clippings, etc. into something often called “brown gold” because of its value to your garden. It looks like rich soil, and smells slightly sweet and earthy.
Compost’s biggest value is being used as a soil amendment. When compost is mixed in with regular garden soil, it adds beneficial bacteria and fungi, along with nitrogen and other nutrients.
Compost helps to lighten heavy soils and enrich sandy soils. Earthworms love it, as do plants of all kinds — including tomatoes, naturally! Compost is a natural fertilizer, adding nitrogen and trace elements to your garden.
You can create your own compost, or you can buy it. The purchased compost I like the best is composted cow manure, but I also grab some mushroom compost when I can find it.
However, unless you have a very small garden, buying enough compost to truly enrich your soil could get quite expensive. That where creating your own compost can come in awfully handy.
Compost is Recycling
One of the nice things is that compost is recycling. Organic items you’d normally throw in the trash become stuff that gardener’s dreams are made of. This includes paper products, kitchen scraps (except meat and fats), grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, weeds (as long as they are not blooming), manure, etc. All of these eventually turn into glorious compost!
And you know that junk mail you get? I’ve started shredding it, then adding the shredded paper to my compost bin. I just make sure not to shred anything that is printed on slick paper, like catalogs. But if it’s just on regular paper — it’s a welcome addition to the compost bin!
How to Compost
I’ll be writing several more posts on composting, such as vermicomposting (using worms), urban composting, using bins, compost tumblers and the like. So stay tuned, and as I get the articles written, I’ll come back and put in links to those pages.