Compost in the Garden

What does compost do?

  • Your garden loves plant food, and compost is its food!
  • Compost helps the soil "breathe" or give oxygen to plant roots
  • Compost helps the soil hold water so plants won't dry out.

Where do I get compost?

  • Some cities have compost centers where lawn material
    and leaves are made into compost.  It is often free!
  • Other people make a compost pile by their gardens

When do I use compost?

  • In the garden, add it lightly to the topsoil around your plants
  • Mix it in the soil when you dig up a new garden
  • Add a little to the top soil in pots and containers
  • Fertilize houseplants with compost tea
  • Spray the roots of transplants with compost tea to prevent shock

Activity:  How do I make compost tea?

Mix two tablespoons of compost with one quart or liter of water and shake several times over 24 hours/one day.  Use as above!

What makes compost?

Compost or its rich brown earth is created as the brown and green material decompose:

  • Dry or brown plant material provide carbon
  • Green plant material, like grass clippings and garbage provide nitrogen
  • Added and layered soil
  • Water

There are many ways of creating compost for your garden.  It can be a simple process of piling and alternating different materials in a back corner of your lot, building and managing a structure to speed up the process outdoors, or using household garbage to make compost indoors. 

Activity:  Make compost in a bag! An experiment...

Take a large quart freezer bag and fill it with shredded

  • green organic material: kitchen scraps as vegetable or fruit peelings, bread crusts, coffee grounds, etc.
  • brown organic material as dry leaves and/or grass
  • newspaper (not magazines since there may be lead in the ink)
  • garden soil
  • A couple teaspoons of water

Seal the bag and massage ingredients each day

Open bag for six hours every other day to let in oxygen

Mixture should darken and brown and be ready for use in four to six weeks

Please for more information on alternative strategies of making compost, see A Complete Guide to Composting Klickitat County Solid Waste. Choosing a Compost System  6/18/2004. Klickitat County Solid Waste in cooperation with Underwood Conservation District and the Washington State Department of Ecology Sustainability Group.

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