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Back to basics – how to feed your garden

Compost is the single most important supplement that you can give your garden soil – it is like the vitamin C of the earth. Many of us know this, but do you actually know and understand why and how it works?

What is compost?

In a nutshell, compost is the product resulting from the biological decomposition or “rotting” of organic matter under controlled conditions. It is made through the stock piling of ageing organic matter and/ or by adding agents to this matter which assists with the fermentation process. Composting involves the consumption of carbon, oxygen and water by micro-organisms as they feed on the organic decaying matter, which leaves a natural by-product called humus, rich in nutrients for plant growth.

How does it work?

The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria and fungi) that take up residence inside the pile of organic matter, continuously devouring the materials and recycling them to produce a rich organic hummus that is a valuable nutrient for plants. For this process to happen efficiently, the microorganisms need heat, moisture and air.

Compost contains nutrients that your plants need for optimum growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also an especially good supplier of micronutrients that are needed in small quantities such as boron, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. The more varied the materials used to make the compost, the greater the variety of nutrients the compost will provide.

Why should we feed plants?

The benefits of using compost are numerous. As already mentioned, while compost provides optimum nutrient levels for healthier plants, it also builds good soil structure which enables soil to retain nutrients, water, and air, it protects against drought, helps to maintain a neutral PH, and protects plants from disease.

It also feeds earthworms and other microbial life in the soil. In general, no matter what kind of soil you have, all soils can be improved with the addition of a good quality compost.

Compost is best used as a mulch spread over the soil surface or mixed into your garden bed or potting soil. Worms will do the hard work of mixing the soil and compost by taking it down into the soil to eat, releasing the nutrients in a form that plants can use.

When should we feed plants?

Composting and can be done throughout the year in South Africa, although each season has its own benefit.  During the winter composting (and mulching) provides protection against the cold. Feeding your plants has great benefit during the spring and summer months as this is when there is a lot of active new growth.

Why Farmyard Organics Compost?

There are two approaches to composting – active and passive. Farmyard Organics uses an active (aerobic) composting process where aerobic microorganisms break down organic matter and produce carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia, water, heat and humus – the relatively stable organic end-product. Aerobic microorganisms are able to break down the materials at a much faster rate and produce less pathogens, odour and harmful greenhouse gases than anaerobic composting.

All of our raw materials are organic in origin and are sourced responsibly. We use a combination of the following; pine bark and sawdust  mixed with green plant material, kraal manure, mushroom compost and horse manure. The result is healthy compost that is dark in colour and has an earthy smell, which your garden will love!