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Compost first

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If you really want to be a gardener, you REALLY want to be a composter!

Composting happens always, everywhere in the world, without human intervention nor invention. Notice the old growth forest floor? Soft, dense mat of leave, needle and animal matter, starting with recognizable bits on top and progressively more unrecognizable bits until rich loam is found beneath.  This is a compost pile at it’s finest! Old growth forest

We are fortunate that nature does this for us for the most part. We can put a bunch of ingredients in a pile, water it and wait. Or we can be more proactive.

The ingredients we select to add to our compost will select for higher bacteria populations, higher fungi populations or a balanced bacteria/fungi compost. (Each type of plant requires only one of the three environments) When a large variety of ingredients are included, a much greater variety of microbes will be present. This means a diverse microbial population that not only feeds your plants their complete nutritional requirements but protects them from disease and biological attack, help deliver water to their roots and builds the perfect soil in which the plants can thrive.

The physical pile for a family garden should be about 4’x4′.  This has proven to be the best size to maximize thermal qualities, moisture retention and protection of the microbes from environmental influences. Protection from heavy rains can include tarping. Pallets make a handy frame to contain the pile.

Composter

Microbes live, reproduce and die at a rapid rate within the pile and while doing so require air, water and food. The food is supplied by the ingredients you add, water is added to keep a constant moisture level (when compost is squeezed by hand a couple of drops should fall from your hand), and air level is maintained by using ingredients of varying sizes and by turning the pile occassionally.

You can be as scientific as you like or not at all. Either way the pile will compost. A compost can complete in 5 weeks up to a year depending on your enthusiasm!

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