Note: Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to sign up for a FREE webinar on “8 Mistakes Gardeners Make And How To Fix Them” this Friday (May 15, 2020). The webinar will als0 introduce the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle which will be available May 18 – 22. It’s a great deal at $19.99 for over $500.00 worth of products!
How I Learned Compost Is Good For Gardens
I learned about natural vegetable production early – it was the way my grandfather, who’d grown up farming, raised vegetables every summer to feed us.
Annually, grandpa grew a bountiful garden that provided produce all year-long. He started by adding composted horse manure (what he called “garden gold”) from the neighbor’s stable to the same sunny patch of land each year.
Then he’d plant his favorite varieties, often saved from the previous year’s harvest. Subsequent plant growth was rapid and lush, there were few disease or pest problems, and what wasn’t consumed fresh was canned or cellared for later use.
His system didn’t require chemical fertilizers, insecticides, or herbicides. The horses processed hay and grass into manure; and when that manure was composted and returned to the soil, it returned fertility and friability.
The fertile, friable soil promoted quick, healthy plant growth; and healthy plants seldom succumb to pests and disease.
Grandpa used crop rotation (see Crop Rotation – A Simple System for how to do that) which further minimized the chance of pest and disease problems.
And by saving seeds from his favorites each year; these varieties slowly developed local disease and insect resistance while gradually becoming better adapted to local climate and soil conditions (see Why Heirloom Vegetables Are Better For The Garden for more on this).
Grandpa learned his system from his father, who’d had it passed down through countless ancestors before him. Instead of adding costly chemical inputs, they used processes that mimicked nature.
How Compost Improves Your Garden
It all comes down to improving the soil. That’s how compost is good for your garden!
Since our goats and chickens are producing “garden gold” for us, we’re gardening the same way my grandpa did. Each fall, as winter approaches, I add composted goat and chicken bedding to the garden beds. Then we add a thick layer of chopped leaves and let nature work over the course of winter (see photo of garden beds prepared for winter above).
In the spring, I plant my seeds and vegetables directly into the garden beds (we don’t till the soil), add more composted bedding around the individual plants, and then cover the beds with grass clippings (we also use only organic lawn products).
When we first started gardening here, the ground was compacted clay, and our produce struggled. But after several years of using composted manure, letting the vegetable roots create airways in the soil, and using leaves or grass clippings to conserve moisture, the improvement in the soil and produce production is incredible.
The soil has become fertile and friable – I never used to see worms or insect life in the soil, but now every shovel full contains worms and insects. The plants grow quickly and we seldom have any issues with disease or pests – we used to have issues with many pests (flea beetles, potato beetles, squash bugs, cabbage loppers, etc.), but by following grandpa’s methods, they’ve gradually disappeared.
So, crop rotation, saving seeds, and mulching to conserve moisture are all important elements in growing a great garden, but the one thing that is really crucial is improving the soil. And for that, my grandpa was right, compost truly is “garden gold”!
We’re fortunate to have the compost from the goats and chickens; however, anyone can create compost for their garden – here’s one resource on how – Composting At Home.
And now about that free class!
If you’ve faced empty shelves at the grocery store during the pandemic, you might be wondering how secure your food supply actually is. Or even if things aren’t that bad where you live, you might be stressed out by all the bad news and looking for a hobby to take your mind off things.
In either case, this is a great opportunity to spend more time gardening and growing more of your own food.
With gardening, each season is different, but each season also has common themes. So you don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over.
That’s why my friends at Ultimate Bundles have partnered with Angi Schneider to create a free class called: 8 Mistakes Gardeners Make and How to Fix Them.
Angi and her family have been turning their 1.5 acres into something that can supply many of their needs for years to come (that includes gardens, fruit trees, chickens, and bees).
For your convenience, the class will take place at two different times on Friday, May 15th – 10 AM and 4 PM EST
Angi will be teaching about topics like:
- Soil health
- Watering best practices
- How to deal with pests
- How to prioritize your planting schedule
- And more!