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Compost is all your garden needs

Using compost in a garden may seem an obvious choice, but the fertilizer companies have made a lot of money for a long time convincing you otherwise.  Simply stated - compost is all you need to feed your garden.  That's not going to make companies much money, but it will help to actually mitigate some of the climate change that is so rapidly happening.  If you need more convincing, here are a few reasons to trust your garden's health to compost:  

Two bags of turkey compost & freshly brewed compost tea.

Reason #1: Nutrients & Minerals

Below is an analysis of compost sold by Lyngso Garden Materials.  A bag of the Diestel Structured Compost ("turkey compost") costs $7 - which may sound expensive - until you look at the report: 

Diestel Structured Compost analysis by Waypoint Analytical - from Lyngso Garden Materials product page

Here's a link to the full report provided by Lyngso.

Using this compost in your garden negates the need for fertilizer, as NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) are all abundant.  Key minerals are also abundant.  Some bone meal or ground oyster shells are all you need to boost up the calcium levels.  

Highly recommend watching this video of Charles Dowding discussing some misconceptions about using compost.

Reason #2: Compost acts like a mulch

Adding compost suppresses weeds - significantly reducing the work of pulling them.  Weeds that do make it through the compost to the surface are weak and can be easily discarded.  Growing in a drought - like the one we're currently experiencing in California - requires water use to be absolutely scrutinized.  The organic matter in compost absorbs moisture - making it more consistently available to plants.  This is critical particularly in times of high temperatures that can quickly deplete moisture from bare soil.  The result is that you'll need to water less often - which is huge.

Reason #3: Compost helps mitigate climate change

Compost fuels plant growth.  Plants remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the ground.  This natural process helps to mitigate the warming of our planet ie. climate change.  The technology we need to address climate change is right under our feet.  Check out for more info.

Getting Good Compost

We gardeners have all sorts of compost bins of various types and sizes, but the reality is - in our urban environment - we don't generate enough plant material to produce the quantity of compost needed to sufficiently feed our gardens.  Not that we shouldn't be composting, but you're going to need to buy compost.  By far, the best source in the San Mateo area is Lyngso Garden Materials.

Lyngso has a drive-thru, "bag-it-yourself" option that makes it easy to pick up enough compost to layer into garden areas as you're swapping crops.  They sell 2 different types of compost:  the Diestel Structured Compost mentioned above, and another made from local green waste called Organic Green Waste Garden Compost.

I've heard rumors that the green waste compost (sourced, I believe, from Recology) contains some bad stuff.  If you have any doubts, I'd suggest reading the full analytic report provided by Lyngso.  Here's the link.  Lyngso does call out that this compost might contain some bits of glass or plastic and doesn't advise using it for growing organic produce.  So the turkey compost is your best bet.  You can see from the nutrient analysis below that it is much less nutrient dense than the turkey compost:

Green Waste Garden Compost analysis by Waypoint Analytical - from Lyngso Garden Materials product page

One thing to keep an eye out for is the compost temperature.  While the turkey compost is fully finished, meaning the breakdown process is complete - and therefore the temperature has cooled - the green waste compost can still be quite hot - which could potentially damage plants.  
Hope you all have a great growing season.

-Bill S.


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