The power of compost

Compost is wonderful. I can think of almost no other tool I’d rather have around my homestead. It beats wheelbarrows, hammers, even my favorite cooking pot.

If I did not have compost, I would have a more expensive garbage bill. If I did not have compost, I would have a more expensive chicken feed bill. If I did not have compost, I would have to use more plastic bags (to contain yard waste for pickup). If I did not have compost, I would be contributing more to landfills.

But I *DO* have compost! And it’s wonderful.

Properly placed and used piles of compost are lovely things.

I have more birds in my yard than all my neighbors put together, because compost with a good amount of fresh vegetable parts is more attractive to many birds than a birdfeeder. Seeds from green peppers, peels of carrots, halves of wormy apples. It’s a buffet for the vegetarian birds. And all the worms and grubs attracted to the pile are a feast for the carnivorous birds.

The grass around my compost pile is lush and green. Yes, even in January. The nutrients leeching out of the pile even without help are sooo good for it! So are the earthworms that the compost attracts. Some gardeners pay money for earthworms to put in their yards – mine arrive on their own.

I can take rabbit and chicken manure – that smelly, ugly stuff – and place it in a compost pile with layers of straw and vegetables … and suddenly there is no more smell and no objectionable sight. Certainly beats bagging it up in plastic and paying someone to remove it. And when you live in close proximity to your neighbors and even sight is an issue, compost looks a lot better than plain rabbit and chicken manure, even if it is safe to put directly on the plants.

And all of those benefits are even before it’s reached the point where it can be used. When everything in the pile is has been composted long enough, it is the richest, darkest, best fertilizer you can use. It looks good, just like expensive mulched topsoil from an expensive garden place. It smells good – musky and earthy and fresh – much better than any chemical fertilizer from the store.

Not to mention you get all these benefits for free! I live in Oregon, so the water it needs falls from the sky, but even in Colorado the water was the only cost. You do have to have a barn fork for turning and aerating the pile, but I use the same one I already had for moving rabbit manure and cleaning out the chicken coop. Sure, you can get fancy and build a compost bin, or get a tumbler, but those aren’t strictly necessary. Mine is a freestanding pile on the side of the yard.

Kitchen scraps and smelly manure disappear into its depths. Birds, worms, and my chickens feast from it. It greens my grass and fertilizes my garden.

Compost is powerful.

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