The secret to successful gardening is in the quality of the soil. The plants that we tend to cultivate need lots of humus (the organic component of soil) and minerals in order to grow strong, healthy, and vibrant. In organic gardening that means compost and rock dust. The compost provides humus and nitrogen while the rock dust provides many other trace minerals. You will need to add a significant amount of compost and a small amount of rock dust to your existing soil as amendments. You can make your own compost as directed below or you can purchase compost from a garden nursery or Home Depot. Rock dust can be obtained at a quarry or a granite countertop company or online. 

For making compost at home I recommend that you get two of the “SpinBin Compost 60” tumblers which can be purchased online. Place these two tumblers side by side somewhere close to the garden. Start by adding one shovel-full of organic soil (or a few probiotics capsules) to one of the tumblers to act as a starter culture. Next, begin adding fresh green and brown organic matter.

Add at a ratio of four parts green organic matter to one part brown organic matter. Flip the tumbler over daily. Add one to two cups of water once a week. Continue to do this for two months. 

On the third month stop adding fresh organic matter to the first tumbler and switch to the second tumbler. Start the second tumbler in exactly the same way as the first one and begin adding fresh organic matter. This way one of your tumblers will always be available to add fresh organic matter while the other one is able to finish processing. Flip both tumblers over daily. The more often you flip your tumblers the faster the organic matter will decompose. If you follow this procedure and alternate the active tumbler every other month you will have a steady supply of finished compost on a regular basis 

Here are the kinds of materials to add to your active compost tumbler.

Green Organic Matter:

  • Kitchen scraps (no processed oils or animal products)
  • Root mats from your sprouts and wheatgrass
  • Grass clippings
  • Seaweed

Brown Organic Matter:

  • Dried leaves
  • Sawdust or sawdust pellets (not from pressure treated wood)
  • Shredded paper (with plant-based inks only)

At the beginning of the planting season add mature compost on the top of your garden area and spread evenly to about 6-8” thick. For a 10’X10’ sized garden this will take about 10 large wheelbarrow loads of compost and fourteen pounds of rock dust sprinkled evenly. Using a spade shovel turn the compost and rock dust in to the existing soil to mix about 50/50. Level the area off with a steel rake. Now, you are ready to plant! You will need to repeat this process at the beginning of every planting season. You should also use your compost as a side dressing for your growing plants. Add about four cups of mature compost around the base of each plant once every two weeks throughout the growing season.

Article by Brian Hetrich

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