More About Compost

The composting process is an important one: it completes nature’s cycle by returning green and organic wastes to the soil. However, most home gardeners cannot make compost of suitable quality or in sufficient volumes for their needs, especially when they have ornamentals as well as vegetables vying for its beneficial effects. So they find themselves in the garden centers each spring and fall, surveying the rows of bagged soil amendments.

Your spring and fall soil preparation will, to a large extent, determine your gardening success. Since it requires the same effort to till a garden with a poor soil as with a quality one, you are ahead in time, effort and money if you do it right. The astute gardener seeks to improve one very important gardening parameter, the level of organic matter or humus in the soil. The benefits of organic matter include permeability, water retention, optimum nutrient level, good seed germination, proper root development and disease suppression. Peat products will provide some of the required parameters, but only a high quality compost provides them all.

Professional, commercial-scale composters know that composting consists of a little science a little art, and strict discipline. The fundamental process is really quite simple. The combination of a carbon source, a nitrogen source and a supply of oxygen will allow those friendly little microbes to devour the raw materials. In the process, they create a humus material that plants adore.

The art of the process is in knowing how to provide the environment for the microbes to thrive. This includes when and how much to aerate the feedstock, when to add moisture, and when to add bulking agents. Since this is often site-specific and related to climate and other variables, it is a balancing act with a long learning curve.

Assuming that good quality raw materials are used, a good compost has been rendered when the resulting material is dark in color, has an earthy smell, and will not reheat when piled. And that is exactly what you get when you open a bag of Fern Hill Compost. You’ll be glad you did and your plants will be delighted!