Friday, March 13, 2015

Compost – Gardener’s Gold

Heading out to your garden this weekend?  Whether you grow flowers, vegetables, shrubs, or even a lawn, compost is the key to great soil.  And great soil is the key to healthy, resilient plants!  Compost is the dark, crumbly result of decomposed plants & animals.   It helps build soil texture, holds moisture, and supports the millions of soil critters that are important to soil fertility. 

You can make your own compost in a pile, in a compost bin, or even a worm bin.  The WSU Extension Master Composters offer classes to help you learn how, or check out this great guide: Composting Yard and Food Waste at Home by Seattle Public Utilities. There are guidelines on different methods of composting, trouble-shooting guides, and compost recipes.  It even includes some really cool drawings of compost food web critters, where worms are the big guys! 

You can also buy compost - a good option if you want to start planting your garden now, and don’t have a compost pile ready to harvest, yet.  We are lucky to have several locations to buy bulk compost or soil blends that include compost.  Bagged compost is also widely available.  We recommend looking for organic compost or compost that has been certified by the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) testing program of the US Composting Council.  A compost provider should be able to provide their latest test results. A User’s Guide to Compost has additional tips on choosing compost and helpful charts to figure out how much compost you need for the task you want to accomplish.  In other words, if you have a 5x10 garden bed and want to dig in 2 inches of compost, how much compost do you need?  And for you ambitious types – how much do you need for an acre or two?   

Improve soil fertility to grow happier plants and use less water by adding compost to your garden, yard, or lawn this spring. Happy gardening!

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