Compost is one of gardeners’ favorite materials these days. Garden writers and “experts” believe that every home should have the facilities to make compost. Some even refer to it as black gold. I agree with them, and one of the reasons I do is because compost is free. It’s made with waste products, diverting them from landfills.
Compost is easy to make. You can use almost any organic waste. The leaves that drop in the fall, landscape debris that you prune, flowers you deadhead are just a few of the materials you can compost. You can also add vegetative table scraps (no meat scraps), newspapers and even coffee grounds still in their filters.
Facilities to make compost can be as simple as a big wooden box you can make yourself to various types of commercially available composters. Using a rake, you’ll have to turn the material in a DIY composter. Many of the commercial composters can be turned by a crank. Commercial composters are available at home and garden centers, as well as online.
Compost is cheap fertilizer. It’s loaded with nutrients that plants need, which the compost releases as it decomposes. Compost also improves soil structure, which much of our soil needs. It’s a shame to throw that rich material into the trash and let it decompose in a landfill, when you can use it to grow spectacular plants with minimal effort.
There’s quite a bit of discussion on the internet about compost acidifying the soil. It won’t make our basic soil ericaceous (able to grow acid loving plants). Depending on what you’ve put into your compost, it can move the pH needle a little bit. Evergreen material like pine needles, or oak leaves is particularly acidic, as are citrus peels.
Part of compost’s job is to act as a buffer to keep soil neutral. Ideally, it’s pH should be between six and eight. So, don’t try to make compost do what it’s not intended. Its primary purpose is to return organic material to the soil. It’s a natural source of the nutrients your plants need.
Best of all, you can enjoy all compost’s benefits with almost no cash outlay and very little extra effort. Besides improving your landscape, you’ll also be doing a good turn for the environment.