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Composting Provides Turkey Soup For The Plant's Soul!
by Ben Dungan
by Ben Dungan

October 12, 2014

There is calmness in the air right now, and many of you can feel it too. As we ride that holiday train, we will be making that all so important stop for Thanksgiving this Monday. The next day, the dogs will be let out. Just don't ask me who let the dogs out.
While many of us will declare Christmas shopping warfare on many of the retail stores and malls, others may spend some of our free outside and do a little work in the yard.
By now, there is a distinct chill in the air and many of your leaves have fallen from your trees. Although it isn't one of the most fun jobs to do in the yard, it is something that has to be done.
Even though the day after Thanksgiving has never been deemed the "Biggest Raking Day" of the year, it might be at your house. While the time is right, you might as well take advantage of all the pair of hands you can get a hold of. Thanksgiving's meal will still be wearing on them, so they will not be able to run away as fast.
Now whether you have burned your leaves or have simply bagged up leaves in the past, it is time for a change. Burning your leaves has shown to harm the environment, while bagging your leaves just ends up wasting good space in the landfill. The alternative, my friend, is composting.
Now you may have heard the word composting before. Why should you compost your leaves, when you can buy all the compost you want at the garden center next spring? My answer to your question will be answered with a question. Why should you buy a head of lettuce when you can buy salad in a bag?
I rest my case.
Organic matter is a product of composting. It is very beneficial to plants. It has a high water holding capacity and increases the organic matter that is available to your plant. This organic matter contains many nutrients that the plant can use and acts as insulation for the plant keeping it cool or warm depending on the season.
Think of composting as Mother Nature's Giant Stockpot. Now Thanksgiving is coming up. For one day only, good food will be returning to our bellies. We all know the difference between good food and bad food.
A good stockpot will contain liquids obtained from the simmering together of bits and pieces of meat, poultry, bones or fish trimmings with vegetables, seasonings, and water. Through this process, those bits and pieces will breakdown allowing their flavor and seasonings to be released into the stock. These liquids, strained and boiled will concentrate their flavor, which is the basis for fine soups.
Just like a compost pile, we take the bits and pieces of leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust, and garden trimmings, and throw them all together. Just as a stockpot simmers its bits and pieces over a low flame, the sun will heat a compost pile. As the pile warms up, the pile will breakdown the yard wastes into a dark, rich topsoil-looking soil amendment.
Just as you would add spices and seasonings to your stockpot, you do the same with your compost pile. By adding nitrogen and carbon to your pile, you help allow the microbes to breakdown the pile quicker. Microbes in the pile need nitrogen and carbon to help them to grow. A compost pile that is lacking in nitrogen and carbon will break down much slower.
Stirring is also essential whether it be a stockpot or a compost pile. By stirring a compost pile, you help mix and blend the particles that have already broken down. You also allow other particles that may not be in the proper place to breakdown as well. Think of it like blending the flavors in your stockpot.
Stirring your compost pile will also provide oxygen to reach the microbes. Since microbes are the ones doing the work in your pile, keeping them happy and healthy is important.
In the end, after a long day of raking leaves or putting your leftovers in a stock pot, it all boils down to one common theme. You are taking something that is leftover and used, and out if it, making something new and wonderful.
And just like your stockpot, ladle out that organic matter in warm, rich, helpings to all of your hungry plants in the garden.

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