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The Beauty of Compost

June 1, 2015

Anyone who has worked on a farm or edible garden has at least discussed the use of compost as soil supplementation and fertilization. Lots of folks save their banana peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells in a (hopefully covered) compost-designated bucket, and disperse the scraps throughout the plants in some form or another. And most of us remember learning about decomposition of organic material in biology or physical science in middle school. However, how many people really understand why we spread decomposed plant and animal matter around our growing areas? How do old food scraps help our new food sources thrive?

For those who are confused, let’s define compost: compost, as a noun, refers to decayed or decomposed organic material (organic in the sense that it is natural, carbon-based, not that it has been certified by the USDA). Compost is known as a soil builder, healer, and cleaner. It is a builder, because it provides the soil with freshly-available nutrients that have been retrieved from deep down in the cellular structure of the compost itself. It heals the soil, in that many of those nutrients that reveal themselves once the organic material has decayed are missing from soil that has been used repeatedly over a period of time. Thus, the compost replenishes the soil with nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients, like manganese, copper, iron, and zinc! Lastly, compost is considered a soil cleaner, because the healthy bacteria and nutrients with which it provides the soil are (generally) stronger than whatever disease and/or unhealthy bacterial life occupy exhausted soil.

Compost

Composting your garden or farm is a great way to recycle and reuse your resources (fruit and vegetable bits, egg shells, coffee grounds, seed and nut shells, etc.), but there is in fact an even better way to maintain a healthy yard while sustainably dealing with food scraps. That is the way of compost tea.

Compost tea is exactly what it sounds like — a compost-brewed liquid that is applied to soil via a spray device, rather than a shovel and wheelbarrow. For this reason alone, we can already see why such a concept is preferred by many. It saves backs and blisters alike! But beyond the immediate, physical benefits of the compost tea method, there are more reasons why farmers and gardeners are increasingly turning to compost tea over solid compost. Our experience, here at Wolfscratch, has shown that tomatoes treated with compost tea are growing stronger and more quickly than those with which we worked solid compost into the soil. As a natural, permaculture farm, we do no spray our crops or soil with conventional herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, in efforts to deliver the safest, cleanest, and purest produce we can! Our research and now, our experience, have shown that compost tea is an excellent natural pest- and disease-i-cide. Because compost tea is so rich in soil-nutritious components, the soil becomes so healthy, that diseases have no way to enter! Similarly, when we treat our bodies well and nourish our immune systems, disease has a much harder time settling into our bodies. Pests, namely insects which eat our delicious veggies, are actually diverted from our healthy crops!

So remember: kitchen scraps, veggie leftovers, egg shells, and leftover tea leaves and coffee grounds are NOT waste! For tips on making your own compost tea, and a more comprehensive report on the benefits of using compost tea, check out:

http://www.compostjunkie.com/compost-tea-recipe.html

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