What is Compost Gardening?

Malcolm Tatum

Compost gardening is a gardening technique that employs the use of organic material to replace the nutrients of the soil. This natural process of replenishing the soil is an excellent alternative to using commercial fertilizers and is extremely environmentally friendly. Best of all, compost gardening makes it possible to utilize resources already at hand, such as grass clippings, to help the garden grow.

Regular additions of compost will improve heavy clay-like soil.
Regular additions of compost will improve heavy clay-like soil.

One of the essentials for composting in the garden is to create a compost heap. The heap is simply the spot where the organic materials are placed to naturally decompose. In general, it is a good idea to place the compost heap in an area that receives ample sunlight and is not closed in. This helps prevent the compost elements from building up excess moisture content and developing an unpleasant scent.

A compost bucket.
A compost bucket.

When there is a desire to neutralize the sometimes uninviting appearance of a compost heap, using composting containers are a viable option. Composting bins are excellent for this purpose. The bin can be painted into a color that blends in well with the surrounding landscape and will house grass clippings and other materials with ease. A bin can also be equipped with lids that can be shut during rainstorms or other precipitation that could cause the compost to mold during decomposition. As with the heap, it is important to place a composting bin in a location where the contents can receive plenty of sunlight.

Compost gardening will involve placing amounts of the compost around and near seedlings and growing plants. One of the benefits of garden composting is that the organic materials tend to kill off weeds while replenishing the nutrient content of the soil. The compost will also serve to prevent the ground around the plant from drying out too quickly, thus ensuring the roots of the plants are receiving an equitable amount of moisture.

Engaging in compost gardening, other than the task of creating and managing the compost heap, is very similar to any type of gardening. What is eliminated is the need to purchase harsh chemicals to promote growth of the plants and to rid the garden space of weeds. At the same time, dead plants and other organic substances can be added to the heap and thus helps to make it easier to keep the grounds looking clean and manicured.

There are a number of resources available to help interested people get into the process of compost gardening. Books on the subject are available at most bookstores. In addition, several web sites exist that provide basic information, general compost gardening tips, and message boards that allow gardeners who use compost to share ideas and discuss various aspects of managing a garden using natural materials.

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