What a great lead in Nancy Taylor Robinson gave me with her sentence “And it all started with a lowly gift from the compost,” In Nancy’s case, it was her cheese pumpkins. In my case, it’s the black gold that I work back into my garden beds. I have been composting and adding organic material to my gardens ever since I started vegetable gardening 36 years ago. Compost is the premier soil amendment for improving soil structure and increasing the productivity and fertility of your soil.
In fact, University of Maryland recommends that a gardener add six inches of compost to new gardens for several years and one inch of compost to established garden every year. While compost does not have high NPK values, it improves the soil structure of any type of soil. In my Howard County clay, compost aggregates the small clay particles into larger particles which permit more air to permeate the soil and increase water drainage. In sandy soils, compost holds moisture and retains nutrients in the soil. Information on soil fertility and composting can be found on the University of Maryland’s HGIC website. The links are soil fertility and conditioners and composting.
I have five compost bins made up of four foot oak pallets rescued from the Howard County dump, wood waste facility. They are always in use since I stockpile my browns (leaves) for use throughout the spring and summer.