Compost, a Gardener’s Black Gold: The Secret Potion of Successful Gardening

Gardeners around the world use compost to feed their garden, which is a special potion called ‘Black Gold’ by those familiar with it.

They give this material a name commonly attributed to crude oil because to a gardener, it is just as precious. This special material is compost, which is special because it is literally the concentrated goodness of last year’s garden. It returns the nutrients to the soil which had been removed by the roots of the previous garden.

Traditionally made in a pit on the ground, compost can now be created in a fraction of the time in a compost tumbler. This is one fertilizer that all gardeners can agree is beneficial to the earth, because all composting is organic composting; no chemicals are used with any compost-making method.

When it is made the traditional way, it is begun at the beginning of the gardening season but is not ready for use until the end. In a tumbler, new compost is ready for the garden within weeks so several batches can be made every year. Some people prefer a tumbler because a pile can look messy.

What is Compost Made From?

Compost is made from plant material and other biodegradable materials such as newspaper or animal waste, or a combination of the materials. Any vegetable scraps from the table can be used, but keep all meat and grease out of the pile.

Not only will it add bad bacteria to the finished compost, but it will attract unwanted creatures to the pile like racoons or rats. If the compost is to be used on a vegetable garden, only the manure of vegetarian animals can be used, because meat-eating animals leave organisms in their waste that can ruin a food crop.

It is common for gardeners to raise rabbits next to the garden because their pellets can be used straight from the cage.

How is Compost Beneficial to Plants?

Once the raw materials used to make the compost are broken down, the resulting material is dark and crumbly and it can be used generously in the garden all season long. It is not possible to overdose most plants on this rich, nutrient dense product, but some plants that are grown for their foliage, such as herbs, may become leggy.

This is due to the high nitrogen content of compost. Potassium and phosphorus are also present. Earthworms are attracted to compost and create tunnels to it from below. As they return to the depths, the take some compost with them, creating an aerated substrate for the plant’s roots. This aeration allows freedom for the roots to grow and allows water and other nutrients to reach them more easily.

How to Use Compost

While some till mounds of it right into the ground, usually it is heaped around the base of a plant for two reasons. Firstly, it is a precious commodity for the home gardener who uses the pit or pile method.

Secondly, compost helps weeds grow too, so if it is put around the base of the plant instead of tilled into the whole plot, it will be used by the intended plant alone.