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Compost, Vegetable Gardener's Gold by Mike the Gardener
There is a lot of talk these days about gold and precious metals, but for the home vegetable gardener, nothing is more "gold" than compost. Compost is the ultimate source for everything your plants need to grow and produce.

Compost is more than likely the answer to any vegetable gardener's question on soil improvement. How do I enrich my soil? Compost! How do I make my soil more friable? Compost! How do I make my soil better for water retention capabilities? Compost! Yes compost is really the answer to a lot of vegetable gardening questions.

If you think compost is too good to be true, then all you need to do is go ask any fellow vegetable gardener that has been growing their own veggies for some time and they will be the first to tell you that compost is the answer.

So what is compost? Where do you get compost? Is compost safe to use?
Compost is nothing more than taking organic material and letting that material breakdown naturally. Such material would include, grass clippings, leaves, wood ash, your leftover dinner, coffee grounds, tea bags and so much more. It would not include, aluminum cans, plastic containers and so on. That stuff is called garbage, but you probably know that already.

As you can see from this basic list of materials you can make your own compost from the items that you already have in and around your house. Forgo the garbage disposal and start composting (which is the act of creating and making compost). I will get to more on composting in a second.

So is compost safe to use? The answer is absolutely! In fact I truly believe you would be missing out on a successful garden without compost. Compost, as stated before, enriches the soil by adding nutrients, and compost has even shown in some studies to help your vegetable plants fight off disease and insects.

Composting, the act of actually creating compost, is easy. The two easiest methods of composting, at least to me anyway, is a compost pile or trench composting.

A compost pile is as it sounds, a pile of the organic material mentioned earlier. You would take an area of your yard, property etc, and simply make a pile. Over time this pile would break down into healthy usable compost. Of course if you live in a suburb development, town home area and so on, a compost pile may look unsightly to "non" vegetable gardeners. So you can either convince your neighbor's to get on board with what you are doing (the harder path), or simply enclose your compost pile, to make the pile look "neater".

The second composting method is trench composting. This is where you will immediately bury your organic material about 18 to 24 inches into your garden. The downfall of this composting method is that you cannot, actually I should say, you should not bury anything while your vegetable plants occupy your garden area. You don't want to disturb your plants' roots. In the end you will have to keep a compost pile anyway.

So here is a breakdown as to why you should have a compost pile:

1] Compost provides nutrition for your plants
2] Compost will improve the aeration, friability and water retention of your soil
3] Compost will keep your soil's pH in optimal balance
4] Compost is free! Ok, compost is virtually free. You still have to add the material to a pile to make it.

Start your own compost pile today!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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"Compost, as stated before, enriches the soil by adding nutrients, and compost has even shown in some studies to help your vegetable plants fight off disease and insects."
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