Gardening With Gratitude-by Angelina Jordan Item Number: gardening-with-gratitude-by-angelina-jordanThe literal answer to the question posed to “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” about how her garden grows could have very well been “by using composted soil, of course”. In this case, the question would probably have been better answered by one of Queen Mary’s servants.
In fact, composting is a concept that has been around since the beginning of time. It is the natural decomposition of organic materials returning to the earth. Even if this is a new concept to you, it’s probably already happening right in your own yard.
Remember that pile of leaves that fell late in the season? Yes, the ones that you meant to dispose of but which ended up there in the corner of your yard. If you take a close look at the bottom of the pile, those matted, decaying leaves are the beginning of a compost pile. Left where they are, those decaying leaves will eventually be returned to the soil as the roots of currently living plants absorb the remaining nutrients from them.
So, that’s why the grass is so green in that corner of your yard. The roots are being nourished by the decaying leaves. That same realization may very well have been exactly what inspired early humans to begin actively composting. If the plants around decaying organic materials grew well, what would happen if they intentionally used that soil for planting seeds?
Since early gardeners definitely operated on the trial-and-error method they began experimenting with various plantings. When the results proved successful, they began regular composting as a means of producing better crops.
While land was an abundant resource for ancient gardeners, it has grown scarce over the years. Modern man has been wasteful and hasn’t taken care of the earth, which has resulted in extensive landfills. The land that we do have is being reduced daily as we continue to simply toss unwanted things aside instead of recycling.
Composting is one of the most proactive and productive ways that we can each do our part. It’s also one of the easiest environmentally conscious efforts we can exert. These easy-to-follow guidelines will put you well on your way to making a difference.
Here’s a breakdown, no pun intended, of the elements of composting so that you have an accurate understanding about the complete process.
The first thing that you’ll need to determine is what kind of composting system is right for you. It is as simple as deciding whether you want to simply use a portion of your yard for your compost pile or whether you want to invest in one or more composting bins that you’ll use for the process.
Each of these composting systems produces about the same results. Using the bin system may work best for you if you’re concerned with your compost being visible. You can use either one bin for the entire process or up to three bins, depending upon whether you want to invest the time to move the compost from one bin to the next as it advances through the process. If you have a secluded area of your yard or you don’t mind the view, you can compost just as easily without a bin system.
In order to thrive, your compost must have a continual supply of three essential elements...air, water and food. Each of them serves a designated purpose in the recycling process.
The actual workhorses of composting are aerobic microbes. In other words, they required air. Think about it like aerobic exercising... without an adequate air supply, the exercise is useless in producing results.
These same aerobic microbes are also water babies fond of aquatic sports. Though they perform best when your entire compost pile is covered in a thin layer of water, they’ll limit the air supply if too wet, which slows down the process. The same will happen if your compost pile is too dry, except that the slowdown results from the microbes not being able to disperse freely enough throughout the compost.
The composting microbes aren’t finicky eaters, but they do prefer variety in their diet. You’ll need to make certain to include both their favorites... brown’s and green’s. Brown composting foods are primarily dry or dead, such as dried plants like weeds, hay, fallen leaves, and straw. Green composting foods typically include microbe favorites like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee and tea grounds, or animal manures. These provide nitrogen, which acts like a protein while the brown’s provide an energy supply, much like a carbohydrate.
Natural is the key element to remember in composting. Even though you’re creating this process yourself, it is essential that you keep the process organic.
Breads, Cereals, Grains and Pastas
Dairy Foods (butter and cheese)
Once your compost has reached the stage where it is all brown and powdery, it will have an earth-like odor. It’s at this point that it is ready. You needn’t be concerned if there’s a bit of remaining straw that hasn’t yet decayed.
There is more than one way that you can use your compost that will directly benefit your gardening.
Direct Soil Compost – Simply mix the compost into the soil before you plant.
Broadcast Compost – You can spread your compost by sifting or broadcasting it over any problem areas of your yard or garden without working it into the soil. This also works well for houseplants.
Mulch Compost – Spread the compost around specific plants or even around your yard just as any other mulch. This will prevent soil erosion and water evaporation from the sun and wind.
Liquid Compost – By mixing equal parts of water and compost material and letting it sit for a few days, you can create your own original liquid fertilizer. Use it sparingly or dilute it more for seedlings. Make certain to water all areas thoroughly after using this mixture.
By investing your efforts in composting, you are able
to experience gardening at an even deeper level. You’re being proactive
in caring for our earth so that it can continue to produce that which we
plant. Returning to the earth that which it has given us so generously
is the very least we can do to express our gratitude.