Home Garden Organic Compost and Mulch
Garden compost and garden mulch are two of a gardener's best friends. They
are beneficial for strong and healthy plants. They significantly increase
the productivity of your garden. Their long lasting benefits saves you
time and effort in in many ways, in all types of gardens. There are
many forms of compost and mulch. Some are organic, while others are artificial.
Be a soil saver..... start organic home garden composting today. Throw away,
or drastically reduce, chemical fertilizers. You can help save the environment,
and save money while doing so.
Did you Know? Mushroom compost is a highly valued soil amendment.
Do you know what mushroom compost is made of? You might be surprised.
Find out now
The Composter's Motto: Let it rot!
What's the Difference between Compost and Mulch?
What is Compost? Garden compost is comprised of decayed,
organic plant waste materials. It's nutrient rich composition, acts as a
natural, healthy, organic fertilizer for your plants. "Composting" is the
process where organic plant matter rots and decays. The material breaks down
through the natural process of decomposition. Composting occurs over a period
of time, aided by a combination of bacteria, air, worms, heat, and water.
Compost is made from organic matter. It can include weeds, grass clippings,
hay, seaweed, garden waste, kitchen scraps, tree leaves, sawdust, or branches,
to name a few. More on what to
Composting refers to the process of rotting or decomposing plant matter.
It can also refer to animal manure, which is also composted. Manure almost
always includes a mixture of straw, sawdust or other bedding material, along
with nutrient rich animal manure. More on composting
What is Mulch? Garden mulch is any material placed on top
of the soil and around plants in your garden, as a protective covering for
the purpose of:
Reducing weeds around plants
Increasing or decreasing soil temperature
Retaining soil moisture around the plant
Creating a more attractive appearance
Many mulches feed plants as it decomposes.
Mulches can be organic such as compost, wood chips, grass clippings, pine
needles, or hay. Or, they can be inorganic such as black plastic, newspaper,
or even aluminum foil. The benefit of organic mulch, is that it also enriches
the soil. Inorganic mulches provide no benefit to the composition of your
garden soil. Some inorganic mulches, like plastic, can be harmful,
leaching chemicals into your garden soil.
Composting Tips: If you recently sprayed or applied chemicals to your
lawn, do not use the grass clippings in composting . Those nasty chemicals
are not organic. You definitely do not want it in your vegetable garden.
Do You Have Seplophobia? If you do, stay away from the compost pile!!
This is the fear of decaying matter
How to Make Compost:
Home garden composting is easy to do. Over the long term, there is not much
you can do wrong to a compost pile (also called the compost heap) Gather
up any and all organic matter, and place it into a pile in a back corner
of your yard or garden. It slowly decomposes over time. Even if you simply
pile plant waste onto a heap in your yard or garden, it will
decompose.....eventually. Most gardeners prefer to speed up the composting
process, and avoid the pitfalls of bad odor and attracting unwanted pests.
The key ingredients to successful garden composting are:
The right mix of materials containing Nitrogen (Greens) and Carbon (Browns).
See What to Compost
Microbes and bacteria, which break down component materials.
Moisture - should be 40% to 60%
A well maintained and active composting pile, converts organic material to
compost in as little as 30 days! Left to nature, a compost heap can take
from several months to a year or more, to completely decompose. The
byproduct of active decomposition, is heat (and sometimes, odor). Have you
ever seen a large pile of wood chips, at your local nursery in the middle
of the winter? You may have observed it "smoking". A composting pile can
actually become so hot, that it ignites. This occurs in large, town or industrial
If you are not using a composter
or a compost tumbler, select
an area near your garden, to create your compost pile.
Many people opt to close in their pile with fencing, or acquire a home composter
or bin. Home composters and bins are neat and more aesthetically pleasing,
than a pile of weeds and decaying grasses.
Add organic matter from your garden and yard.
Include vegetable and plant waste from your kitchen, including egg shells,
coffee grounds, tea bags, spoiled vegetables and fruits, etc.
Alternate layers of green and brown waste. This helps the composting process,
and aids in decomposition.
Keep the pile moist, but not wet.
Turn the pile over from time to time, to maximize air circulation to the
bacteria and microbes that "eat" and convert your pile into rich compost.
This is where composters and compost
Use the compost after it has almost completely turned into soil. It is rich
in nutrients and minerals.
Apply compost liberally around your plants as a mulch, or mix it into the
Did you know? Along with heat, odor is another common by-product of
the composting process. Keep odor to a minimum, by turning the pile regularly.
One of the most common culprits, is grass clippings piled too thickly. Mix
all materials together well.
Composting Do's and Don't's:
Stir the pile frequently, to maximize air penetration.
Do not put animal remains, meat, or fats in the pile. They attract unwanted
Keep the pile moist.
Do not put grass clippings too thickly, they smell as they decay.
Chip or shred larger branches and plant stalks. The more surface area bacteria
has to work, the quicker the decomposition.
Do not put diseased plants of any kind, into the compost pile. Plant disease
over-winters in a pile, and re-infests your garden next year.
Speeding up the process:
Stirring the pile, speeds up the composting process. This is where compost
Keep materials loose, to allow air flow.
Red worms speed up the composting process. Add them to your pile once, and
they should reproduce in big numbers. You may not need to buy them again.
Also see Worm Compost
Important Tip: Do not put worms into a composter... the heat inside
is too hot for them. They are fine to put into a compost heap.
What to Compost/Compost Materials:
In general, you can use most vegetable and plant matter. This includes
yard and garden waste, weeds, leaves, branches and twigs, and kitchen scraps.
Use a mixture of green and brown matter. Green matter, like grass clipping,
is high in nitrogen. Nitrogen gets the compost "cooking", or decomposing.
For an extensive list of what compost materials to use, and what not to use,
see What to Compost.
Compost, like garden soil, has a pH value that varies, depending upon what
you put into your composter. Learn
about compost pH.