Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The UA organic garden has received numerous compliments on the effectiveness of its compost in creating and maintaining a healthy soil structure with good tilth and proper nutrients. A good compost is a great tool in sustainability - it suppresses plant disease, increases pest resistance, and contributes to the overall health of the soil and the crops. The basic elements that make up compost are food, air, and water. Carbon and nitrogen are key elements in composts, specifically because nitrogen gas is not useful to plants, and must be converted into a useable form. The amount of nitrogen in the soil and the bacteria population are directly related. That is, the more nitrogen that exists in the soil, the more bacteria there is to consume organic matter. When the bacteria die and/or create microbe manure, the nutrients are released and become available for plants.

Compost piles will eat almost any kind of organic matter (legumes, leaves, plant residues, hay, MANURE, etc). When deciding a location for a compost pile, keep in mind the amount of sunlight it receives – you don’t want it to dry out. Aeration is an important factor in compost as well. Too much aeration can lead to drying out before it decomposes, but on the other hand, poorly aerated compost gives off a foul odor and decreases the quality. The proper amount of water and air is also necessary in maintaining healthy compost. Moisture is required for microbial activity, and although microbial activity will continue without adequate oxygen levels, the end product is not ideal.

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