Making your own compost

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(KTSF by Jessie Liang)

Keeping soil health y is a critical factor to maintaining a healthy garden.  The Garden for The Environment sustainable education manager Hilary Gordon says that plant roots need both air and water to be healthy. If the soil is too wet or too dry, the plant can die. In addition to watering, composting is a good way to keep soil moist and healthy. “Because the compost is just like a little sponge. It’s going to hold air, and it’s going to hold water next to the plant roots, so that they have everything that they need to grow to be healthy,” she said.

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Gordon also adds when you water your plant, you’d better water slowly and allow soil to absorb water evenly. For compost, there’re two ways to do it.  One method is using a wood or wire mesh container. It’s just like making a cake that has layers, a layer of leaves, another layer of brown, dry stick s and leaves, and then water. There has to be air as well. “When you put all those four together in the right combination, bacteria and fungi will grow so many millions of little lives are in there, and they would digest all of that,” Gordon said.

The compost can be hot – up to 140 to 150 degrees, then it decomposes. After two or three months, the compost turns into a black color that contains a lot of nutrients. “So all the energy and nutrients have gone into these plants. We don’t want it wasted by throwing it away in the garbage can,” Gordon said.

The second method is worm casting. Gordon says, “This is completely closed and worms live inside there in the bedding of shredded newspaper, and they eat your food waste and turn it into very , very strong compost that’s a  powerful fertilizer.”

Gordon stresses that food scraps are more likely to attract rats and rodents, so it’s better to use fully covered compost containers. Worms not only release nutrients but also purify the soil and air to make plants thrive.

If you’re interested in learning about composting, please visit gardenfortheenvironment.org or call 415-731-5627 for information on their workshops.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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