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Compost: Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants

Updated on March 21, 2012


Healthy soil, healthy plants, remember these four, well actually, three words and you will know the formula to successful gardening.

A question I often ask in gardening workshops or during gardening talks is what do you grow? The answers often come fast, tomatoes, roses, herbs, strawberries and so on.

It is rare that someone presents the answer I am seeking. What do you grow? I grow soil.

Yes, soil, it does not matter what you plant in that soil, that is up to you and the constraints of your garden. If the soil you grow your tomatoes or potatoes or roses in is not healthy then your plants will not be healthy.

If your plants are not healthy they will be easy targets for disease and pests and this means more work for you as you struggles to get rd of the pets and heal the plants.

Consider a garden as an ecosystem where all the elements work together to create a harmonious whole. If the harmony is thrown out of balance through infestation or invasion then the system is threatened, disorder rules. Healthy soil is your best insurance against this threat and the damage it brings.

So how do you get healthy soil? Feed it organic material and you add the vitality that your plants need and seek.

A good source of organic material that is available to gardeners is compost. You may but it or make yoru own.

To make your own compost it is important to add the right mix of materials. You can compost this material.

Each time that you add fresh green material such as grass clippings, kitchen wastes, vegetable leaves be sure to add some dry and brown material. Leaves are excellent. So think about that in the fall and save a bag full.

You can also use sawdust, straw, dried grass clippings, or paper; however, I would sue paper only when no other source is available.

The mix of green and brown, fresh and dry materials will provide the optimum combination of carbon and nitrogen to make good compost and it will prevents problems such as smelly, wet, or compacted piles.

Be sure to check the compost pile’s moisture content. Think of a sponge, the compost should as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Is it too dry, then sprinkle with the garden hose or open the bin temporarily to a rainfall. Too wet, you can turn the pile and aerate it, and add dry material.

Now and then you will want to add a shovel of soil so that you introduce into the pile the micro-organisms that break down organic waste.

Turning the pile not only aerates it but also speeds up decomposition. Turning the compost can be a chore so build yourself an aeration column, or chimney using chicken wire or hardware cloth; you build the compost pile around the chimney which will allow air down into the centre of the pile where the oxygen-loving bacteria that break down organic material can use it.

In a fairly short time you will have a rich dark material that will make your garden thrive. Remember as the gardener said feed your soil.


compost bin behind garage

Bob Ewing photo
Bob Ewing photo


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