Garton praises virtues of compost
ASBURY PARK — Before delving into her composting advice and ideas at a recent workshop, Lori Garton of Kula Urban Farm, offered a quote from singer Bette Midler.
“My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture,” read the quote in handout for attendees. “And that is what I had with my first compost heap.”
Aside from covering basic advantages to composting like improving moisture retention and aeration and soil structure, she also pointed out proper composting will neutralize soil toxins, release more nutrients to plants and prevent already over-burdened landfills from taking on more pounds of trash when compostable materials are mixed in with trash bags.
She encouraged the small crowd of participants to develop “a relationship” with their respective compost piles.
“It’s not just a pile of dead dirt, it’s a living, breathing thing and something you can get to know,” Garton said.
“I want to underscore that, think of your compost heap as billions and billions of beneficial microbes, bacteria, fungi all these things working in synchronicity with each other to break down the organic material you’re adding to the pile and all these different things have their own important roles in this little ecosystem, so think of your pile as a living thing,” she urged.
“Worms and creatures similar to them are moving through the soil and more of them exist in your soil and it’s just a cycle, as the roots go down, you get more and more aeration,” she said.
Copper, potassium, magnesium, all of those things are good for soil and plants can grab these things more readily if you have compost added to your soil.
“When you have healthy plants, you have higher yields, so that means more food production,” she noted, adding it’s also important to add roots to the compost heap.
Once all are completely broken down, you’re left with some very good hummus to keep adding periodically to the backyard garden or small acreage farm field.
“You can think of compost materials as green materials or brown materials,” she said, noting green materials like vegetable scraps and grass clippings are nitrogen-rich, whereas brown materials like dried leaves, hay and straw are carbon rich.
One exception of course is manure, “generally brown but actually very nitrogen rich.”
Garton said a good rule to follow for compost heaps is having three parts of brown material to one part green.
“If you’re collecting material in five-gallon buckets, you’ll want three buckets of your brown materials to one bucket of your kitchen scraps, or manure or whatever it may be.”
After an outdoor demonstration at Kula Urban Farm’s three part compost pile — neatly separated by old wooden pallets — Garton said Kula Urban Farm, located on Asbury Park’s west side, will hold more workshops through the spring and summer of 2021.
For more information, visit www.kulafarm.com.