Compost Is Mother Nature’s Decomposed Materials

Shows an active compost steaming and decomposing
Shows an active compost steaming and decomposing

Compost is considered the black gold of organic gardening. It is a major requirement for having a healthy environment and doing our part to feed our soil. Since 1992 in Minnesota you are not allowed to put yard trimmings and tree waste into the garbage. For the rest of us in the USA, it is predicted that 1/6th of landfill material can go into our compost pile. By composting you will answer the question ‘where does compost come from?’ You can change wastes, yard trimmings, leaves, and a huge amount of kitchen scraps into a dark fine mixture that can be applied to make better the soil and cut back the use of fertilizer and water. Best of all, the actual real work is performed by mother nature in the decomposing. She has been doing this for thousands of years. Let us take a couple of moments to see what makes composting succeed and build a simple compost pile.


worms just love to eat up all the ingredients added to a compost pile.
Bacteria are found in all kinds of organic matter(compost). They do the primary breakdown of materials without having to put them to work. Naturally, they live and reproduce on their own and flourish under the proper conditions. Nonbacterial workers like worms, fungi, and many invertebrates will work in your compost pile for just food and board. Some will feed on the actual material and others will eat on the bacteria but the natural chain will work together and put out a finished product unmatched. You can even compost rotting apples. Compost horse manure or even add fresh grass clippings to manure compost.


fresh grass clippings
rake up the fresh grass clippings and add to compost pile
The greens like green leaves, coffee grounds, plant trimmings, fresh grass clippings, raw fruit and vegetable scraps are items to put in compost pile that will provide nitrogen and protein for the microbes hard at work in the pile.

The browns like dried grasses, straw, wood chips, twigs, branches, sawdust, shredded newspaper, corncobs, and cornstalks provide carbon and energy for the microbes. Microbes are living things they need water and air. Turning your pile every 2 weeks will allow aeration to aid the decomposition. NOTE: I suggest that two smaller side by side bins be used in order to ease the task of turning. Turn from one to the other.


compost pile structure
This does not need anything fancy. Keep it simple

To see what this person did to build a compost bin out of pallets.

1. Keep it simple.

Inexpensive materials like old pallets, snow fence, or chicken wire with poles can be used for homemade composting bins. Cheaper yet is just make a simple pile without a frame. The bins though will have a compost aeration design for better aeration, retain heat, and better looking. The result is aeration compost systems. As far as size goes if we stay at about 1 cubic yard (3 ft. high x 3 ft. long x 3 ft. wide), we will get the heat necessary and retain the moisture. This size is easy to turn as well.

2. What to add?

keep pile moist
keep pile moist not soaked
Even if you only have grass clippings and leaves this is enough to decompose. Don’t worry about not having enough at the start. When items become available, add them. Water sparingly but don’t forget to water. If too wet just turn the pile to another bin to dry. Rain, fresh grass clippings are 70% water, will provide the moisture. You will find that smaller items decompose faster so shred and use compost chippers if possible. When building layers with greens and browns you are building with nitrogen and carbon layers. How to prepare a compost pile is started here. Start that bin with a layer of twigs or coarse items to provide air circulation.

3. Turn the pile.

compost and pitchfork
Turn your compost pile often
Take a pitchfork to turn the compost after the first week, don’t be afraid to add greens and browns to pile at any time. Repeat the turning until you see materials that are dark and crumbly, earthy smelling, and does not look anything like what you put in the bin in the first place. Make  yourself a compost tumbler.



black gold, compost dirt
Composting within agricultural systems capitalizes upon the natural services of nutrient recycling in ecosystems. Bacteria, fungi, insects, earthworms
Your finished product-compost is not a fertilizer but is full of nutrients that will enrich anywhere you put it. This is showing the effect of compost enhancement. Use it in your vegetable garden, lawn, potted plants, and flower garden. Compost will add that much-needed drainage capability to the soil. Add over rocky areas to provide a growing media. You have just created the richest soil anywhere.

The Happy DIY Home Staff has put together another interesting page to show their opinion about compost making here at How to Make Compost. Give it a look.

Related How To article: How to Compost

Related How To article: How to Use Your Compost

Organic Gardening Glossary

This organic gardening glossary will give you a little idea of the substance of some organic gardening words but not all terms related to organic fertilizers or gardening. The words were not gathered from the dictionary but by a common man’s explanation of the words with the aid of organic experts from around the United States.

Acid soil— Soils with a 7 pH and below. Also called sour soil.

Actinomycetes— A fungus-like soil microorganism required in the decay of organic matter like everyday mushrooms.

Aeration— A manual act of putting holes in the soil to permit air and gases to be interchanged.

Aerobic— an organism that can live and grow in an oxygenized surroundings.

Alfalfa Meal— A natural growth stimulant made from alfalfa. Fast-acting. NPK 2.5-0.2-2

Alkaline Soil— Soil with a 7 pH and above, aka sweet soil.

Amino Acids— The main ingredients of protein. They are made up mainly of nitrogen and carbohydrates.

Anaerobic— Living or active in the lack of free oxygen. An organism that does not need oxygen for growth. It may react in a negative way or even die if oxygen is introduced.

Annual— A plant that will live for one season due to either weather or its natural cycle.

Bacillus Thuringiensis— A biological soil-dwelling bacterium that specifically targets caterpillars and other pesty insects.

Bacteria— Used in composting to produce the heat-related in hot composting. There are 3 types: thermophilic, psychrophilic and mesophyllic.

Bat Guano-– Discharging waste matter from bats that are used as a fertilizer. That is bat manure.

Beneficial Insect— are often called beneficial bugs and are any of a number of species of insects that do important services like pollination and pest control.

Biennial— A plant that takes 2 years to finish its life cycle and produce seed.

Bio-Solids— a precipitate made by sewage treatment by-products and are made when wastewater and sewage are processed to reduce disease-producing agents, also to break organic matter down into their more basic forms.

Biodegradable— Having capacity or the ability to be decomposed by, for example, bacteria.

Biological Pest Control— is a method of controlling pests such as weeds and plant diseases, also insects, mites, using other organisms, but generally also involves a human involvement.

Black Spot— A disease caused by a fungus which for the most part has an effect upon the foliage of roses. It will be worse in wet weather.

Blood Meal— A dry organic fertilizer made from blood. The analysis will be around NPK 11-0-0.

Bone Meal— Made from cooked bones worked to a meal. Steamed bone meal. Phosphorus is the main nutrient, NPK is 1-11-0.

Borax— Borax contains about 11% boron. Used in fertilizer as a source of the boron, a plant food element.

Cane Borer— An insect larva that burrows and feeds on the core stem of plants like roses.

Chelated— A compound that minerals are often changed prior to their use as soil additives and fertilizers.

Chlorosis— A condition occurring when a plant shows a deficiency of chlorophyll. Leaves become yellowish while the veins remain dark green. For the most part, caused by too much water or lack of iron.

Cold Frame— is a see-through roofed structure, built low to the ground, used to guard plants against adverse weather, mainly beyond normal limits of cold or wet.

Colloidal Phosphate(soft) — also known as colloidal phosphate is a clay substance that is mined from the old settling basins of former hard phosphate rock mining operations in and around Florida. NPK 0-2-0. The Best choice for alkaline soil and is faster releasing than rock phosphate.

Companion Planting— used in gardening and agriculture and is the planting of assorted crops in pollination, pest control. It provides living space for beneficial creatures, giving the utmost use of space, and to increase crop production.

Compost— Decomposed organic material made to enrich the soil. Totally decayed matter.

Composted manure— Animal manure, like cow manure, that has been naturally composted and has killed pathogens and weed seed by this process.

Cottonseed Meal— Fertilizer meal made from ground cottonseed. NPK 6-2-1. Best put into a compost pile and made a pass through that process prior to using it.

Cover Crop— is a crop planted primarily to control soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, and wildlife.

Crop Rotation-– is the way of operation of growing a group of unlike or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It is done so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. It assists in reducing soil erosion and enhances soil fertility and crop production.

Cultivar— A variety of a plant amended from a natural species and held under development.

Dead Heading— pruning dead or dying flowers to promote further blooms by halting the laying of seeds.

Diatomaceous Earth— An talc-like dust from skeletal remains of various small, single-celled algae with cell walls comprising chiefly of silica. Used as an insecticide and food supplement.

Direct Seed-– To sow seed straight into the soil rather than starting in shallow box or pot in which seedlings are started.

Dolomite— Made from dolomitic limestone, that has both magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate, by a process of grinding. Added to soils deficient of these minerals.

Double Digging— is a gardening method used to increase soil drainage and aeration. It calls for the loosening of two layers of soil, generally done when preparing the soil in a new garden, or when deep top-soil is wanted.

Earthworm Castings— Earthworm fecal matter high in nutrients. One of the best organic fertilizers.

Epsom Salts— Hydrated magnesium sulfate. It is used as a fast-acting source of magnesium and sulfur generally used as a soil amendment.

Fertilizer— Any material such as manure or a mixture of organic nitrates, in this case, used to get soil more fertile

Fish Emulsion— A liquid fertilizer made from fish. NPK 10.5-6-0. If used with liquid seaweed it will make one great all-around fertilizer.

Foliage-– A term that refers to the leaves of a plant.

Foliar Spray— Liquid solution of fertilizers sprayed on the leaves and is rapidly consumed and used right away by the plant.

Garden Fertilizer— A fertilizer specifically developed for the growing garden. Lucky for us organic fertilizers do not need any special formula.

Germination— When a seed or spore sprouts.

Granite Sand— decayed or ground-up granite rock. It contains silica and 19 trace minerals. It has 1% to 4% of total potash.

Grass Fertilizer— The same as lawn fertilizer. Feeding the grass is the same as feeding the soil and plants.

Green Manure— A cover crop, such as ryegrass and clover used to protect the soil, hold nutrients and augment the soil fertility or organic matter.

Greensand— A deposit called glauconite that is naturally found undersea. It’s an awesome source of potash. Add as an iron supplement.

Guano–Manure of bats and birds that are used for fertilizer purposes.

Gypsum— Calcium sulfate, a mineral used in fertilizer as a source of calcium and sulfur. Also used to improve alkaline soils holding a high sodium content.

Hay-– Grass or clover that is cut while still green and used as fodder or mulch.

Hardening Off— The process of gradually exposing plants to cooler and adverse growing conditions to increase their chances of surviving when planted out of doors.

Hardy— A plant that will survive the normal temperature range in a given area.

Herbicide— A product used for weed control.

Humus— Soil or organic matter that has broken down, it smells like the forest floor. 3% to 5% of this organic matter should be found in healthy soil. It is a slow-release form of food for microorganisms.

Hydrogen Peroxide 3%— An oxygenating compound used for soil conditioning and bacteria-fighting.

Hydromulching— A method of seeding that uses seed, fertilizer, and mulch in a solution sprayed on the soil surface to grow.

Inorganic— Made from a source that was never alive now or in the past.

Insecticide— Product used to control insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)— also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based movement that unites practices for economic control

Kelp— Any of a variety of brown seaweeds, ground up, used to enrich the soil. NPK 1-0.5-2.5.

Lawn Fertilizer— A fertilizer set up to feed the lawn(grass) and the soil that it grows in.

Leaching— The gradual loss of minerals from soil from the action of water.

Liquid Fertilizer— A fertilizer in liquid form that is broadcast by a sprayer.

Loam— The ideal type of soil(earth) which is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt. With the addition of organic material will make it perfect.

Macro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants in large quantities. Included are NPK, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.

Magnesium Sulfate— A soluble salt used as a source of magnesium like epsom salts.

Micro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants include iron, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, cobalt and zinc.

Microorganisms— They are bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoa, beneficial nematodes and yeast which exist to breakdown organic matter into mineral elements.

Minerals— They provide the food and nutrients for plants and microorganisms. They are the basic form of organic matter.

Mulch— A covering or blanket, normally organic or inorganic, laid on the soil around the base of plants to cut back erosion, control weeds, constant moisture and provide insulation to the soil in extremely hot or cold weather.

N-P-K— Initials for Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash.

No-Till Gardening— is a non-cultivation method used by some organic gardeners, is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil.

Open Pollination— Transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant, when the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety.

Organic— Material which is either plant or animal in origin, simple and healthful and close to nature.

Organic Gardening— the art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by abiding by the important principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management and heirloom variety preservation.

Peat— Partly decomposed moss plant which grows in moist areas in the north.

Perennial— A plant that grows year after year as are most trees, shrubs, grasses, and some smaller plants.

pH— The measurement of the acidity and alkalinity of a material. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. 0-7 indicate acidity, 7-14 indicate alkalinity.

Phosphate— The fertilizer form of phosphorus. Usually considered the actual bloom of the flower producing mineral.

Potash— Usually made from wood ashes. One of the three main minerals in fertilizer. A term used to signify potassium.

Potassium Magnesium Sulfate— Also called Sul-Po-Mag and langbeinite. Mined mainly in New Mexico and some European countries. Use in areas that lack these minerals.

Protozoa— One-celled microscopic animals required to help decompose organic matter.

Rhizome— A horizontal plant stem with shoots above and roots below working as a reproductive structure

Rock powders— The most common rock powders are limestone, rock phosphate, granite dust, greensand, langbeinite, and basalt. They have fertilizing qualities and most useful in acid soils.

Root Rot— A disease caused by a fungus that attacks the root system of plants. Caused by incorrect moisture conditions.

Root Stimulator— A solution high in phosphorus fertilizer and a rooting hormone used to increase the root growth.

Seaweed— Saltwater plants used for fertilizer. Combined with fish emulsion can provide the best complete organic fertilizer.

Secondary Elements— Plant food elements such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. All needed for healthy soil and plants.

Soil— Primarily clay, sand, silt, organic matter, and living organisms making the top layer of earth’s crust.

Soil Acidifier— A material used to make the soil more acid.

Soil Amendment— Different from fertilizer by law. The matter that makes the soil healthier by activating microorganisms, balance pH, and add nutrients while balancing them.

Soil Conditioner— A material that is added to the soil to enrich its content.

Soil Test— Test done to estimate the soil-available concentrations of plant nutrients, in order to find out the type of fertilizer needed.

Sul-Po-Mag— Mined material consisting of sulfur, potassium, and magnesium. Only apply when soil analysis shows it lacking these minerals.

Tilth— a state of the grouping of soil and its condition for supporting plant growth.

Top Dressing or Side Dressing— Adding soil conditioners or fertilizer to the surface of the soil around plants.

Transplanting— an act of removing a plant from one region and introducing it in another region.

Vermiculite— A spongy soil conditioner frequently used to lighten clay soils. It may also be used as a propagating conditioner.

Vermiculture— The use of worms to eat newspapers and food scraps to make nutrient-rich castings.

Weeds— A plant growing in a place where it is not desirable. Any plant can be a weed to different people.

Wood Ashes— NPK 0-1.5-8. Will increase the pH of soil. It should not be used in one area more than every 3-4 years.

Xeriscaping— is gardening and landscaping that cuts down or does away with the supply of water from adding to dry land with water by means of ditches etc.

Be sure to check out the organic products that I believe to be the best anywhere.

The Wonderful World of Organic Gardening

Organic Garden

A place where your harvest is safe


Organic Gardening Data will explain and show how organic gardens will be set up and maintained for maximum production. If you would like to have a healthy vegetable garden, the greenest lawn in the neighborhood, and the most gorgeous flowers anybody has seen. Then you have come to the right place. My objective here is put you on to the correct and safest way possible to achieve your goals in organic gardening.

Your Soil

humus Rich soil
Rich soil is good because it has nutrients. If the plant gets nutrients the plant will grow.Photo by Tess Watson

Learn to improve your soil’s quality, get the correct nutrients for healthy plants of all kinds. For example, use molasses in the soil to feed the beneficial microorganisms. To have extra green plants try seaweed that will stimulate their roots and add much-needed nutrients. These are a must-have in organic gardening.

Organic Fertilizers

Medina organic fertilizer growin green
One of the best products on the market for organic gardening

How to use and when to apply organic fertilizers. Apply seaweed once a month as a supplement. Honey or molasses can be applied anytime to feed the microbes.

USDA hardiness zones map
by USDAgov

When to Plant
Would you like to know when to plant your gardens? A hardiness zone map and appropriate dates for first and last frost in your area. Small things like this are a surefire step to obtain that perfect garden and lawn.


I have put together an organic gardening glossary to explain what each garden term means. This is my compilation of terms.


solutions for all pest control
man spraying a pesticide on some plants in his garden

Remedies to take care of those nasty weeds, insects, and diseases. Funny how weeds seem to grow better than the gardens.

Cook Book

measuring cup follow dilution instructions
be sure to follow dilution instructions from the manufacture.

Like a cookbook, we have put in here to help follow those directions on labels with rate dilutions, rate charts, and rate comparisons.

Fertilizer List

Now you will find out what some of the common organic fertilizers are and what their function is. Examples are bone meal, greensand and fish emulsion.

That’s not all, there is so much more to learn here.

Best of all

a happy organic farmer
smiles from a happy organic gardener

Have a good time going through all this data that will make you a more savvy gardener. Good Luck!

How To Grow a FULLY Organic Vegetable Garden–video.

About James

james-ellisonThank you for viewing my website about the right way to garden. I hope you will take away a lot of information that will help you change to organic gardening.


Growing up in Ohio and having a family that believed in gardening to raise fruits and vegetables, I was destined to do the same after I was an adult.


To let you know, I am as, of 2017, 75 years old. You can see that many years have passed since growing up in Ohio. Moving around the world in the Army I was exposed to many types of gardening techniques and by choice, I listened to a lot of garden gurus.

Finally. When I retired from the Army I settled down in San Antonio, Texas. Luckily for me, here in this city were some gardeners that chose organics to excel in and best of all they shared their knowledge with everyone here.

With the help of these experts, I became extremely involved in learning about organic gardening. Under their wings, I began to benefit from their teachings.


I am trying to contribute to the website what I have learned over the many years of gardening OJT(on the job training) so others can benefit.


If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

James Ellison