Compost is an eco-friendly solution to many issues related to plants and soil. The more you read about it, the more you realize its excellent benefits.
If you’re looking to grow your herbs organically, it doesn’t matter how rich your soil is. At some point, you will be using compost in your garden.
Working with compost is much safer than working with synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. That means we don’t have to worry about the implications of using it indoors.
In any case, I would say compost is the way to go!
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Why Do Herbs Need Compost?
Why is compost good for herbs? There are many reasons! Here are some considerable benefits of compost you should know about:
Compost breaks down into humus in the soil. Humus is a dark, nutrient-rich substance present in most fertile soils.
Humus holds high amounts of nitrogen, which is a remarkable characteristic. Soil cannot easily trap nitrogen by itself.
Herbs (and almost all other plants) cannot take their nitrogen straight from the air. The presence of humus in the soil is indispensable for their survival.
Gardeners describe humus as a “natural fertilizer.” All plants growing in nature depend on humus for food.
Compost = More Life = Fewer Pests
Compost is not only rich in nutrients but also living things. Millions of microbes work together to break down the organic material in compost.
Surprisingly, that microbial population can make your soil healthier. When you add compost to the soil, you create a more diverse ecosystem.
More diversity means we can keep pests and diseases in check. Harmful microbes cannot multiply when other predators are feeding on them.
Today, most organic gardeners use compost with their plants. Compost acts as a replacement for pesticides. It would be best if you did the same when growing your herbs.
Less Watering And More Aeration
Both compost and humus enable the soil to hold more water. The ability to hold water is a common feature of most organic substances found in soil.
Farmers use compost when working with soil that doesn’t retain enough water, such as sandy soil.
Farmers also add compost to clay soil which traps too much water and not enough air.
Kept as it is, clay soil can harbor a lot of toxic material beneath its surface. It can also kill the roots of herbs grown in it.
Compost can “open up” clay soil, allowing air to enter and water to drain. Air enables roots to “breathe” and prevents the formation of harmful chemicals.
So, What Is Compost?
You should appreciate the idea that all living organisms will one day decompose. Once you grasp that, you can start to better understand compost.
Decomposition isn’t a law of physics, though. It doesn’t happen at random because it should.
Decomposition occurs when dead things exist under certain conditions. There is one crucial feature, though. The organisms can only decompose in the presence of specific microbes.
Those microorganisms need water, oxygen, and warm temperatures to work.
For the most part, we can find all those environmental conditions. That’s why creatures start decomposing as soon as they die.
When organic matter decomposes, through a process called composting, we get compost.
Composting is a method that quickens the decomposition of matter. It uses a combination of materials that enables microbes to work faster.
Composting requires a specific mixture of materials. It needs ‘green’ material (that contains a lot of water) and a dry “brown” material (that allows more air to enter).
The result is a dark brown substance that’s brimming with nutrients. The process usually takes from four to twelve months. It all depends on the ratio of green to brown material.
How To Use Compost For Herbs
We mentioned some of the benefits of compost above. Now you should learn how to make use of it with your herbs.
As a skilled gardener, you should remember to apply compost to your soil for the situation you’re facing.
In the case of growing herbs, here’s how you can use compost:
Adding It To The Soil (Conditioning)
Compost can improve the condition of the soil in several ways. For that reason, gardeners consider compost to be a “soil conditioner.”
Such a natural conditioner can be quite beneficial. A “soil conditioner” will help your plants mature better, when growing herbs that prefer different soils.
For instance, a fast-draining soil would be perfect for aloe vera. But know that you may need one that traps more water with mint.
Should you purchase different soil mixes in such a situation? Well, you don’t have to if you can use compost.
Mixing compost with well-drained premium soil helps it hold more water. That is excellent in case you want to grow moisture-loving herbs.
At the same time, mixing any soil with compost can make your herbs more resistant to diseases.
Covering the soil with organic or inorganic material is very popular among horticulturists. This popularity is because top-dressing beautifies their gardens. But that isn’t why we gardeners have an interest in top-dressing.
Top-dressing with compost helps your soil with temperature fluctuations. It’ll maintain an even temperature when the air above it becomes too cold or too hot.
More than anything, compost enriches your soil. It will gain essential nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
These nutrients are vital to your herbs. They are also incredibly beneficial for the complex ecosystem living in the soil.
When To Use Compost For Herbs
Start by looking at the herbs you’re growing and the soil you’re using:
- You can add one-third cup of compost to each cup of soil. If your herbs love moisture, but your soil drains water at too fast a pace, this will help.
- You can also add the same amount of compost to clay soil to aerate it and allow water to drain more smoothly.
- Add a little compost to your herbs’ soil if you just want to make them more immune to pests.
- You can grow your herbs without artificial light. In that case, top-dress them with compost at the beginning of their growing season.
- If you’re aiming to grow your indoor herbs year-round, keep them covered with a thin layer of compost.
Healthy Herbs Cannot Grow Without Compost
As you now know, if you want to go organic, you need compost.
I recommend you to start producing your own compost from all the organic waste in your trash bin.
Even if you live in an apartment, there are many ways to compost indoors.
Fresh homemade compost is cheaper and better than ready-made compost. Making compost from your waste is an excellent step toward conserving the environment.