What is Organic Gardening Compost?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter
A compost bucket.
A compost bucket.

Organic gardening compost is any organic matter that is broken down to form compost for a garden. Organic compost is available for purchase, but it is also simple to make on your own. Having a supply of well-aged organic gardening compost is a valuable addition to any garden.

Items typically composted include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, leaf trimmings, and some types of animal manure. There is no secret recipe for organic compost, simply add the items, and let nature take her time breaking the items down. The key to making organic gardening compost is to use only organic scraps to build the compost. The fruits and vegetables added as scraps should be organic, the garden waste should never have received bug spray or dust, and any animal manure should come from animals not fed antibiotics, or other feed-through medications.

Building a truly organic compost pile is a challenge. For people who already buy organic foods, the challenge may not be as great, but it still requires that the gardener pay attention to everything added to the compost pile. Many suburban and urban gardeners head out to the country for a load of animal manure to add to their compost pile. Maintaining a truly organic compost pile requires questioning the farmer on his feeding methods.

Many people will not go that far in their quest for organic gardening compost, and that is fine. As long as the materials added to the compost pile are free of disease, there is not likely to be much difference between the plants grown with organic gardening compost, and inorganic gardening compost. The level of dedication depends on the individual gardener's motivation and personal needs. Making compost is simple; do not shy away from composting because of concerns over whether each scrap is organic.

An unattended pile of compost will break down into fertile black soil in about one year, but there are ways to speed up the process. Compost bins and tumblers are widely available, and are used to decrease the amount of time that it takes the materials break down into compost.

The organic materials require heat and beneficial bacteria to form compost. Stirring the compost, either by keeping it in a compost tumbler, or a bin so that it can be stirred with a shovel, is the easiest way to speed up the composting process. Adding horse, cow, or chicken manure to the compost adds heat and beneficial bacteria. Once the materials break down completely, it will be impossible to differentiate between any of the material, the compost will be uniformly black and crumbly with no odor.

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    • A compost bucket.
      A compost bucket.