Compost is a mixture of organic matter such as animal manure, vegetable scraps, lawn clippings, plant debris and other plant material which can be mixed and decomposed into a valuable addition to your garden soil.

While composting may seem complicated, it’s actually a process that occurs in nature all the time. It’s basically a decay process that turns dead plant matter and animal remains into rich, black soil. This decaying matter returns the nitrogen, phosphorus and other natural elements of which living things are made back to the soil so that they can be utilized to grow new plants upon which new animals will feed.

Amending your garden soil with this organic material is probably one of the best things you can do to help your plants grow strong and healthy.

It works well because it provides a good source of nutrients in a slow natural way without the risk of burning or shocking the microbes in the soil. It also harbors a very diverse community of microorganisms, many of which have been proven to combat plant disease organisms.

Where to get it…

You can create your own organic matter relatively easy. There are tons of articles on the web and many books on how to create a healthy composting pile. It’s a great way to recycle waste for better use.

I find it easier to buy the soil amendment materials I need from our city facility. A full cubic yard of organic matter only costs $26, and the product has been heated to 140 degrees, which guarantees all the weed seeds are dead. Check with your city government. They may have a similar program.

How to use it…

The easiest way to use compost in a garden is to spread it about an inch thick layer on the surface of the area or container where you will plant your vegetables. Then work it into the top 2-3 inches of soil before planting your seedlings.

We also sometimes add dried kelp (seaweed) to our soil to enrich it further. Seaweed is one of the best materials for a garden. It provides potassium and iodine, which is then taken up by the plants.

Amending your soil with rich organic matter will make a big difference in the growth rates and health of the vegetables that you grow. The more nutrition your garden vegetables receive, the more lush, nutritious and delicious they will be for you and your family.

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