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|Compost is king if you want to have a successful home vegetable garden. The reason being, your vegetable garden’s plants need nutrient rich soil in order to grow and thrive and compost delivers that. Adding compost to your vegetable garden’s soil will help keep your soil’s nutrient levels at their peaks.
Buying compost can get very expensive, very fast, especially if your soil needs a lot of compost because it lacks the nutrients it needs in order to help your vegetable plants to grow. No worries, I tapped into our source of vegetable gardening and compost experts to put together a list of the best composting tips so you can improve your soil and save some money in the process. Here they are!
TIP #1: Moisture in Your Compost Pile is Really ImportantUse the "squeeze test" to see how your pile is doing. Reach into the middle of your compost pile, pull out a handful of material and give it a light squeeze. If water comes dripping out, your pile is too wet - add some leaves or other carbon material. If it doesn't clump, your pile is too dry, add some water. If it clumps in your hand - then you are good to go.
Justen Garrity of Veteran Compost
TIP #2: Make Leaf Mold Compost
A] The Lazy Gardeners WayPile a bunch of leaves in a big pile, wait 2 years, turning the pile when you can. BOOM. Compost.
B] The Impatient Gardeners WayPile a bunch of shredded leaves in a big pile in the shade, keep the pile moist, turn the pile several times over the winter if you can. In the spring you should have a nice heap of organic compost at the bottom of this pile all ready to use. Your neighbors will call you a rock star.
Shawna Coronado author of 101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-friendly Solutions to Improve Any Garden
TIP #3: Make Sure You Cover Your Compost PileCovering your compost pile with a dark colored tarp can help you compost even through winter. Since most of the biomass generated occurs in the fall, having fresh compost by spring is a valuable asset to top off beds and remineralize soil for the next growing season.
Luke Marion of MIGardener
TIP #4: Make Your Own Compost. It Will Match Your NeedsDuring my career in the 'selling plants' industry, my main worry has been the compost people use. I could sell perfectly good plants, but if the consumer uses a poor, shop-bought soil, then they may as well waste their money! By making your own, you can craft it exactly the way you want it, and with oodles of goodness!!!"
Michael Perry of Mr. Plant Geek
TIP #5: Collect A Lot and Mix Thoroughly for Great Compost
A] Use Grass Clippings for Your Compost | Make Sure They Are SafeGrass clippings are an outstanding source of greens for your compost pile but you must be 100% certain no weed killers or inhibitors are sprayed on it. Your vegetables are seen as weeds. Even old spray on lawns can cause damage to your plants. I learned this the hard way collecting grass clippings from neighbors. Know what is in your compost!
B] Collect a lot of Material to Create the Most Compost | Turn Your Compost Pile Over FrequentlyYou can never have a enough compost. So collect more material for your pile than you think you might need as it really breaks down into a small pile. One of the biggest tips is to really turn your mix weekly. Turn it and get if fluffed up and full of air/oxygen. This will help speed up the breakdown of organic materials. You want a lot of aerobic activity in your pile and it will keep it from smelling bad. Gary Pilarchik of The Rusted Garden
TIP #6: Keep Your Composting SimpleWhen it comes to composting, as with all things gardening, I like to keep it simple. I don't monitor temperature or cover my compost to protect it from rain. I simply put a layer of brown (leaves, hay, grass clippings) on top of each layer of green (veggie scraps, things that went rotten in the fridge). When one bin gets full I let it sit until it's completely broken down. Then we'll add it to garden beds or around young trees under their woodchip mulch rings. My advice is not to over complicate composting - things will break down naturally without much help required from you!
Megan Cain, The Creative Vegetable Gardener
TIP #7: Composting is Not a Complicated ProcessDon't over-complicate the process. A big reason many people don't have a compost pile is because they think it's too complicated and therefore never start. Don't get bogged down in the details that are so often referenced when researching how to compost. In nature, compost happens every day. It's not rocket science!
Creator & Executive Producer: Growing a Greener World®
TIP #8: Enrich Your CompostAdd a layer of chopped, or crushed, comfrey leaves to your compost heap! It acts as a compost activator by encouraging microbial action, causing the compost pile to heat up and speed up decomposition. All this happens as it enriches your compost in the process!
The leaves have a higher ratio of the essential nurtrients (NPK) than most organic fertilizers--and compost itself--as well as being a great source of calcium and other minerals that are mined from deep in the ground.
* Sidenote: If possible, plant Russian Comfrey, Symphytum x uplandicum 'Blocking 14', as it is sterile and won't run amuck in your garden!
Kelly Orzel of BoweryBeachFarm.com
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