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Composting is an Organic Gardener's Best Friendfrom: Lawn and Garden Magic
Since it's organic in nature, compost is one of the best substances a gardener can use to help their plants grow strong and healthy without exposing them to any of the chemicals present in most fertilizers and pesticides.
The concept behind having an organic garden is simple: For thousands of years, before humans started to intervene in the process, the earth had no problems taking care of itself. Whatever is planted grows, matures, then dies and is returned to the earth through the natural process of decomposition. This organically decomposed matter -- compost -- is rich in soil-enhancing nutrients that increase the strength and health of future plants.
Compost is the end product of a complex feeding pattern of hundreds of creatures including bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects. What remains after these organisms break down organic materials is the nourishing, wholesome substance your garden plants will love.
Additional great features of compost are that it's easy and cheap to make and recycles material that would otherwise decompose in landfills where it wouldn't do any real good. Surprisingly, almost a third of the matter found in landfills is organic material that could have been composted and returned to the land in a more positive manner by using the compost to increase the health of garden soil. It also encourage the growth of stronger, less disease-prone plants.
The way to start composting is to build a small pile of leaves and other lawn debris, and add in coffee grounds, tea leaves, orange peels, eggshells and other garbage that will decompose. As it matures, this organic matter will decompose, and become compost that can provide nourishment for the microorganisms necessary to maintain garden soil in a healthy, balanced condition. These microorganisms, in turn, will produce nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus necessary for soil and plant health.
Just about any organic material is suitable for a compost pile, though you do need to balance the carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves, straw and wood chips, also known as "browns," with the nitrogen -- rich materials such as lawn clippings and kitchen scraps.
Carbon provides energy for the microbes, and the nitrogen provides protein; using too much carbon material will cause the materials in your compost to take longer to break down, while too much nitrogen will make the pile smelly. Many gardening experts consider the best ratio between these two to be 25 parts "browns" to every one part of "greens." If you can grind up yard waste prior to putting in your compost heap, it will disintegrate faster.
A word of caution: Some leaves and branches contain natural toxins and should not be included in your composting process. All parts of black walnut trees should be excluded, as well as leaves from eucalyptus trees, poison ivy, poison oak and sumac.
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