By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Composting is a process by which organic waste decays and transforms into valuable soil. Compost is dark brown and fertile. It is an inexpensive and healthy alternative to expensive fertilizers. Not only can composting save you money, but it can also decrease yard and food wastes. Compost can help amend the soil in a garden, as well. It adds nutrients to the soil, allows plants to utilize nutrients more efficiently, encourages vigorous root growth, and improves soil structure. 

It is easy to start a compost pile in your backyard or even in your kitchen. Many stores offer large rotating bins that assist in composting, and there are also smaller, odor free bins that can be placed in kitchens or on patios. Some people prefer to pick a spot near their garden and simply make a pile. The pile can be fenced in with wire, old pallets, a material of choice, or it can be left alone. 

Things that can be thrown in compost piles include: plant materials, food scraps, paper towels, coffee grounds and filters, hair, leaves, and wood chips. A ratio of 2 to 3 “browns” for every “green” is beneficial. “Browns” are high carbon materials, such as leaves, straw, pine needles, non-glossy paper, and untreated wood chips and sawdust. “Greens” are high nitrogen materials, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, eggshells, and chicken manure.

If you feel concerned about the potential smell, pesky bugs or hungry animals, be sure to place your compost pile away from doors, windows or sitting areas. Ensure your compost pile is getting enough air filtered through it, and skip composting meat, fish, dairy products, fats or pet waste to avoid unwanted odors and pesky critters. Refrain from placing noxious weeds and plants with diseases in your compost area to avoid their spread. Also hold off on adding leaves that might raise the soil pH, such as ash or poplar.  

When it is time to use your compost, all you have to do is spread it on your garden, mix it in with the pre-existing soil, and enjoy the results!

If you don’t have the opportunity to create your own compost, Bloch’s Farm sells Purple Cow Activated Compost, which contains essential plant nutrients, minerals, and microbes. It is manure free, natural and organic. Stay tuned for next week’s article on different composting methods. 

Bloch’s Farm is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. Check out our huge selection of perennials, trees, and other shrubs! Fall annuals and mums are now available. Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail with any questions. Visit our website online at and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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