Have you ever wondered what is compost and how is it made? If the creative combination of ingredients in his spooky witches’ chant in “Macbeth” is any indication, William Shakespeare’s garden was as fertile as his imagination. The Bard could have been describing what is composting or compost when he wrote: “Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
While the modern witches’ brew prepared by organic gardeners – compost – doesn’t require a cauldron, it does require some toil and trouble. However, when it’s ready to be mixed with soil in a vegetable garden, its effects are magical!
What is Compost Made Of?
Exactly what is compost made from? Compost has been used by farmers and gardeners since the early Roman Empire as fertilizer to enhance the soil, and it is created from organic materials, which have been exposed to the natural elements and have (over time) decomposed. Since gardeners tend to be very creative people, the organic materials that are combined in the composting process can be wildly diverse. Leaves, food waste, coffee grounds, paper, egg shells, eye of newt, filet of fenny snake and toe of frog are all excellent materials to combine to form compost. In fact, anything that was once alive will decompose and form compost as well as compost liquid.
From a scientific perspective, the elements that are required for compost are oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and water. When these are present, micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi-molds, protozoa and actinomycetes break down the organic material to form compost. It’s not pretty and it smells funky, but it’s five-star dining for a tomato plant.
What is Composting?
Composting is a natural process and compost is packed with nitrates and these substances are vital elements in soil conditioning. Frequent planting uses up the nutrients in soil and leaves it hard. These nutrients can be replaced by allowing dead plants to decompose in the soil, but composting accelerates this process.
Composting or compost acts as a fertilizer and can even be employed as a natural pesticide for soil. It is used in gardens, landscaping, agriculture and horticulture. When compost is added to over-used soil, it transforms this barren dirt into a rich, growing environment.
What Is Compost Good For?
Creating compost can involve some work, not to mention the assault on the olfactory senses. What is compost used for and is it worth it? This depends on one’s priorities!
If recycling is an important personal goal, creating something useful such as compost from waste products is well worth the effort. What is compost good for? Composting is the penultimate “Green” practice because not only does it recycle waste to form valuable nutrients that are good for the growth of additional plants, but it also saves raw materials that go into the manufacture of plastic garbage bags.
Another excellent reason for undertaking a composting project is because it results in fewer man-made chemicals in the form of fertilizers or pesticides from being deposited in the environment. With fewer chemicals, there will be less potential for dangerous contamination to water supplies that are consumed by humans and animals.
I hope you have learned “What is Compost”, and with apologies to Shakespeare: To get compost to make plants grow, “Round about the cauldron go!”