Composting

Every gardener knows that purchasing soil and amendments for your garden can be tough on the pocket book. Why not make amendments from things that you would normally send to the landfill? Composting is a wonderful way to be green and give a present to your garden at the same time.

Composting carries out part of the earth's biological cycle of growth and decay. Plants grow by capturing the sun's energy along with carbon dioxide from the air and nutrients and water from the soil. When plants die, they become raw materials for the composting or decay process. Microorganisms, fungi, insects, worms, mites, and other creatures convert the carbon from dead plants into energy for their own growth, releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Similarly, they recycle the nutrients from the decaying plants into their own bodies and eventually back into the soil. Other plants and microorganisms use the carbon and nutrients released by the composting process, and the cycle begins again.

The material that remains from the decay process is similar to soil organic matter. It holds water and nutrients in the soil, and makes the soil more porous and easier to dig.

Add fresh wastes to the pile by opening placing into center and covering them this helps aerate also buries so they do not attract pests. Fruit and vegetable wastes are particularly appealing to pests, such as flies, rats and raccoons. To avoid pests, bury these wastes within the pile. If you bury the vegetable wastes in the pile, and pests are still a problem, you may need to screen the pile or keep vegetable wastes out.

You also can bury vegetable wastes directly in your garden. Dig a hole or a trench about a foot deep, add a few inches of vegetable wastes, mix them with the soil, and refill the trench with soil. Another way to avoid pests is to compost vegetable wastes in a worm bin.

Slow composting does not produce the heat needed to kill many weed seeds. It is best to pull and compost weeds before they go to seed. If you put seeds in the compost pile, be prepared for more weeding.If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener contact a Master Gardener on Mondays from noon – 3 pm at 360-427-9670 Ext. 687 or check out the Mason County Master Gardeners online.

Written by
R. Jeanne Rehwaldt
Extension Coordinator Supervisor
WSU Extension – Mason County
Food $ense Nutrition and Master Gardener Programs

Posted March 26, 2014