Local Llano - Experience Your Food Shed

The Secret to Quality Garden Soil

Posted by Local Llano on March 25, 2016

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This week, Local Llano gets our hands dirty to give you the best scoop on compost. Many home gardeners are not informed about the composting process, or the benefits composting can bring to your garden. Compost can help your soil retain nutrients, allow worms and other helpful microbial organisms thrive, staves off drought’s side effects on soil (super important for those of us living on the Llano Estacado), helps to maintain a natural pH and can keep your plants from any soil borne diseases that they may encounter. And if the benefits above weren’t enough already, composting is great for the environment and means less waste going to waste! In this blog, We will walk you through the composting process and how to best introduce your compost product into your home gardens. Let’s get started!

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Container

The container for your compost is incredibly important. Sometimes the compost cycle does not smell as awesome as we want your yards or homes to smell. We recommend a resealable container, this way the smell stays with the compost. A plastic garbage container works perfectly without looking distinct in your yard. Wood containers can work as well; however you will find yourself replacing these bins more often. Metal cans will not work - when the metal rusts this can mess with the natural process of the compost. The size of your container should be directly related to the size of your garden. Smaller gardens do not need as much compost as larger gardens. Keep these tips in mind before beginning your compost bin!

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Compost Contents

What you choose to add to your compost is completely up to you, but Local Llano has a few suggestions to make your compost even better! Collect your green grass clippings the next time you mow the law and mix with shredded paper, “brown” materials, or old produce. Both of these are necessary ingredients for the perfect compost! Stay away from composting meats and pet droppings; these attract the wrong kind of bugs. When you compost, stick to organic ingredients only, no pesticides or herbicides. If you have quite a bit to compost, consider separating the contents into multiple piles.

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Start Turning

This is a great chore for older kids! There is no right or wrong way to stir compost. Churning clockwise won’t yield a better product. We recommend turning the compost as often as you can and as thoroughly as possible. It doesn't matter what you use to stir. Like we said, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with this step. Focus on keeping your compost damp, NOT WET, but damp. Summer composts take longer due to the drier climate but do not get discouraged. Compost can take anywhere from three months to a year to age correctly.

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Adding Into the Garden

You will know the compost is finished when there are no longer any lumps or inconsistency and smells like a natural earth. Add the compost to your garden a few weeks before planting any new plants. The best way to introduce compost to your home garden is to mulch it on top of exposed soil. Worms and other helpful microorganisms will assist the compost to bond with the pre-existing soil.

We hope that you will consider adding composting to your household’s routine this spring. It’s important to incorporate as much environmentally friendly practices now more than ever. Every little bit counts! This is also a great teachable moment for kids too! If we do not care for our planet, who will?

Here's a secret: we're currently working on a coloring book for kids on the Llano Estacado. As a sneak peek, click the image below to download a compost coloring sheet for your kiddos!

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