Planter’s Row: Composting

By  Jessica Pittman, Clemson Extension
The first step for growing a thriving garden with healthy plants is improving your soil.  Composting is a sustainable and cost-effective method used by gardeners to break up heavy clay soil or help sandy soil hold water and nutrients.  
This is made possible by beneficial microscopic organisms living in the compost; these organisms build up the soil and make nutrients available to plants.  
The nutrient level in compost is low and released slowly over time, so it isn’t used as a fertilizer but as a soil amendment.  
Compost can be made from organic trimmings from your landscape.  
Fallen leaves, pine needles, grass clippings and the remains of garden plants make great compost.  
You may also compost things from your kitchen, such as fruit and vegetable peels, crushed eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds.  Never add meat, bones or fatty foods to your compost.  
A compost bin of your own can be constructed out of an array of materials, because there are no set rules when building a compost bin.  Compost bins can also be purchased at some local garden centers.  
There are methods for composting quickly and yielding results within a few months; there is also the option of a slow compost recipe that will yield results after a longer period of time.   
For more information about composting or compost bins, visit your local Extension office or browse our online publications at www.clemson. edu/ extension/hgic.  
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Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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