One of the things I aim to get as much of as possible into my garden is compost. Not the type of compost you can buy, but the type of compost you make. This has to be one of the best things you can put into your garden and like me you should make your own.
Home made compost does not have a fantastically high food value for your soil but there are other benefits as well and it is these other benefits you want in your soil. Let us deal with the food value of your compost first.
Whatever type of compost you make it will have a food value and this will not only cover the typical NPK values but it will also contain other trace elements. I can hear you thinking what values of NPK. Well it varies. It all depends on what you put into your compost as to what you get out of it and this is something only you can control. These ingredients will also help to determine what trace elements are present as well. For this reason it is almost impossible to give accurate NPK values for your compost but these will typically be low. However, you will be adding some food value to your soil and I typically just use home made compost and organic fish blood and bone meal. Occasionally I also give things a boost with organic pelleted chicken manure as well and find that these are all I need to maintain a good level of food value in my soil mix.
The other benefits of adding home made compost to your soil is that it helps build the soil food web and one way it does this is by helping to develop humus. As the bugs begin to break down your compost what is left behind are compounds which help to develop the humus content of your soil. Without humus your soil is of a very poor structure, has very little food value and is not a lot of use. Developing the humus content is one way of building up the fertility of your soil. Earthworms will love it and come up to the surface to feed on your compost further developing the humus content. The main thing about earthworms feeding is that they poo, and earthworm poo is great stuff.
Technically, earthworm poo is known as worm cast and for some reason is higher in food value than what the worm eats in the first place. Whilst I know this does not appear to make sense trust me on this one. The worms leave this behind in your soil. The added nutrients then become available to your plants. The other thing is that earthworms also make tunnels as they move thorough the soil.
The tunnels that the earthworms make, together with a more crumbly soil structure, developed by the humus you are making, also help to develop the ability of the soil to become oxygenated, in other words the more crumbly soil structure allows more air in between the soil particles and your plants need oxygen to their roots and a supply of food.
The final thing your plants need is a drink and by improving the humus content of your soil you are increasing your soils ability to retain moisture. You should be aiming to have a good moisture retentive soil and the best idea is to think of it like a sponge. A sponge will soak up water until it is full and it slowly drains away and evaporates. This is what you should be trying to do with your soil mix. You are aiming to develop a soil structure which has the ability to retain moisture as this is the final thing your growing plants need, air, food and water. A bit like us really.
For a free fully illustrated report on how to build a Hotbox Composting Bin check out http://www.highdensitygardening.com/Hotbox_Compost_Bin.html
Ric Wiley is an internet writer and gardener. His latest website about High Density Gardening can be found at http://www.highdensitygardening.com