Horticulture: The Basics of Composting

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A homeowner sifts soil made from his compost bin in background. Composting is an excellent way to recycle household and yard wastes.

Composting is a process that converts organic materials like kitchen scraps, lawn waste, and garden leftovers into a high-value product which can act as a soil-conditioner and add fertility to soils. It can be beneficial to incorporate into soils including those found in lawns, gardens, and even houseplants, and will often help plants to grow more healthily.

Although some people are only aware of how compost can help with soil fertility, there are many other benefits. While it can certainly add nutrients to soils, it can also benefit your garden or lawn by holding moisture, promoting healthy roots and helping them to penetrate more easily, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, reducing soil erosion and run-off of nutrients, and helping to attract and feed a variety of microbial life found within the soil.

When planning on using compost, it’s always a good idea to first have a sample of your compost analyzed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, so you’ll have a good idea of how it will affect your existing soils.

For more information on composting, please contact John Lyttle at:
(252) 583-5161 (Halifax office), (252) 534-2831 (Northampton office), or John_Lyttle@ncsu.edu