Compost: What is it, anyway?

Compost is what you get when yard and garden debris, kitchen scraps and other organic materials have completely broken down into a rich, dark, crumbly material.

Gardeners call it “black gold,” because it is so rich in nutrients and adds so much value you when add it to your soil. Finished compost is also often called humus, but usually only in really serious sounding books written by uppity, academic types. (FYI for you chickpea fans out there, humus is not the same thing as hummus. So please don’t try to eat it.)

In the right conditions, bacteria and other microorganisms quickly break down organic material into rich, fertile earth that you can add to your soil to increase its fertility and health. After the organisms have done their thing, they generate finished compost, which has lots of minerals and micro-nutrients in an easily accessible form for plants.

Composting is cheap and easy to learn, but there is a little bit of an art to it that comes with practice. Breaking down waste requires the right amount of moisture, heat, soil aeration and a proper mix of materials. And here’s the good news. We’re going to teach you how to do it on this site, which will reduce your learning curve significantly.

So where do you go from here?

Take a look over to your right, and you’ll see a list of Pages.  You can make your way through all of them, or just choose the ones that you’re interested in.

Looking for something slightly simpler? Check the very top of the site, where we’ve summed up the gist of things with just four pages.