Compost is nature's free gift. It is the best fertilizer that you can get. An important difference between compost and chemical fertilizers is that compost is alive whereas chemical fertilizers are DEAD. Chemical fertilizers are the equivalent of drugs, they are a quick-fix and that is the extent of what they do. They do nothing to improve your soil, the home of your plants.
Your soil is actually full of tiny living organisms that you can't see. These organisms are very important to the health of and ultimately the quality of your fruits and vegetables. Chemical fertilizers do nothing to enhance these organisms, they may even kill them. Organic fertilizers feed the organisms and therefore your soil can release its nutrients to your plants. It is all connected --- the quality of your dirt and the quality of your produce.
Adding organic matter to your soil also improves its texture. It will make any soil better. If you have a garden plot, be sure to add compost to your garden each year. Collect grass clippings and leaves to make a compost pile. Let it cook until it is brown, crumbled matter then add it to your garden.
You can also make compost tea from your compost heap. This is best done with compost that has cooked quickly for the nitrogen will be readily available. A quick cooking heap can be made from mostly grass clippings and a little brown matter such as leaves. Make your heap, layer the grass clippings and the leaves, wetting each layer and keep the heap damp. Turn the heap in a few days and wet it again if it has dried out. A quick cooking heap will have a smelly odor so you may not want to make it close to the house. The black blobs that this heap will produce will be nitrogen rich and can be used to make excellent compost tea. (note: The year I used this type of quickly cooked compost around my okra, I had to use a step ladder to pick the okra. The plants grew about 9 feet tall and were branched out like a tree.)
Basic instructions: In a large container add about 1 part compost to 10 or 20 parts water. The amount of water depends on the quality of the compost. The darker, slimier compost is richer than the brown chunky compost. Let this steep for a day or two then use it to water your plants.
Some people place the compost in a gauze bag or a pillowcase before placing it in the container of water. I can see that this would be necessary if you were going to put your tea in a sprayer or in a watering can that has a strainer cap on its spout.
Copyright 2002 by Donna Young. All Rights Reserved.