Matt sits down to talk all about composting with David Hopkins, a University of Idaho Extension Master Gardener. He’ll talk about how he got his start as a master gardener, what compost is, and how it benefits your garden.

All About Composting - Hands rumaging in soil

What is composting

Organic material that has been broken down by microorganisms.

Why is it good for the garden?

It’s one of the best things to have for your garden. It brings a lot of micro-nutrients to the soil. It helps hold moisture in dry soil. It makes the soil more acidic or neutral which plants tend to prefer.

What is the difference between fertilizer and compost?

Compost is broken down organic matter while fertilizer is usually nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilizer can come in an organic or chemical form. Compost brings in great micro-nutrients. Often times you will still need nitrogen so fertilizer is also beneficial.

Can it prevent weeds?

Yes! When it is thickly laid it shades out the weed seeds so they can’t grow or if they do grow they are easier to pull.

How does it affect insects?

Composting allows insects that are beneficial to your garden thrive instead of harmful insects.

What are some ways to get compost into the soil?

One method is to till the soil with a rota-tiller or a gardening fork. Another option is to place the soil on top and allow the beneficial insects and worms to work the compost into the soil naturally. An option called post hole method is for those with perennials in their garden, Dig small holes and place the compost into the holes. Each year moving the holes helps.

Can you put too much compost in?

Yes, if the stem is covered in compost it can rot. It is recommended that you add 1-2 inches of compost every year.

What shouldn’t you put into compost?

Weed seeds, weed roots, wood ash, fatty foods, meats or bones, diseased plants, materials that have been sprayed with herbicides or insecticides, dog or cat waste, shiny/glossy paper.

What are some good ideas to put into your compost?

Newspaper (non-glossy pages),  fruit/vegetable scraps, yard/grass clippings (that haven’t been treated with herbicides or insecticides), leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, shredded paper.

Want to learn more? Check out the podcast below.





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