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The Complete Compost Gardening Guide
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The Complete Compost Gardening Guide

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Give your garden the organic compost diet it craves - and you'll be rewarded with bigger, tastier and more nutritious vegetables, fruits and flowers. Contains everything you need to know, from getting started, to choosing the right materials and containers, to vermicomposting, to making the most of your "gardener's gold."
  • Comprehensive resource for both beginners and experienced composters
  • Amazing techniques to save you time and money
  • Filled with helpful color photographs, charts and drawings
  • Pleasant and Martin, 10-3/4" x 8-1/8", 318 pp.
  • Part 1: Getting Started with Compost Gardening
    1. Gardening in Garbage
      Seeing Is Believing • Who Owns Compost? • Why Compost? • Can You Have Too Much? • Secrets from the Rhizosphere • Bold Bacteria • Fantastic Fungi • Health Food for Soil • Composting Fast, Composting Slow • Getting Intense
    2. Tools for the Composter's Garden
      The Composter's Tool Shed • Five Foundation Tools for Your Composter's Garden • Tools for Transporting Materials • Tools for Cutting and Chopping • Maintaining and Monitoring Tools • Evaluating Your Compost • Knowing Your Needs
    3. Materials for the Composter's Garden
      Getting to Know Compostable Materials • Importing Solutions, Not Problems • Balancing Browns and Greens • Composting Your Way to a Better Garden • Gathering the Goods: Start in the Kitchen • Turning Garden Refuse into Garden Rewards • Composting Ailing Plants and Weeds • Leaves and Pine Straw • Composting Grass Clippings • Composting Manure • Hay and Straw • Paper and Cardboard to Compost • Wood Chips and Sawdust • Purchasing Compost • Compost Activators • Odds and Ends for the Composter's Garden • What Not to Use • Adventures in Composting
  • Part 2: Compost Gardening Techniques
    1. Banner Batches
      Making Compost in Piles, Heaps, Bins and Pens • Making Fast Banner Batches • Working with Slow Banner Batches • Resourceful Compost Enclosures • Curing Finished Compost
    2. Comforter Compost and Grow Heaps
      Working with Comforter Compost • Managing Moisture • Getting Started with Grow Heaps • Grand Finales for Comforter Compost and Grow Heaps
    3. Composting Underground in Craters, Trenches, and Holes
      The Compost Problem Solver • Secrets of the Subsoil • Working with Layered Craters • Pretty Pits-of-Plenty • Working with Treasure Troughs • Hardworking Honey Holes • Digging into Compost Gardening Methods
    4. Catch-and-Release Vermicompost
      Vermicompost Basics • The Who's Who of Garden Earthworms • Getting Started in Catch-and Release Vermicompost • Fostering Worm-Colonized Compost Heaps • Keeping Worms in Indoor Bins • Caring for Captive Worms • Harvesting Finished Vermicompost • Sifting and Storing Vermicompost • Best Uses for Vermicompost • Staying Focused on the Big Picture
    5. Making the Most of Your Compost
      The Whys and Hows of Compost Screening • Getting Rid of Unwanted Seeds • Is Compost Your Cup of Tea? • Using Compost to Make Special Soils • Making Special Soils • Rejuvenating Designer Dirt • Composting in Wild Company • Do Animals Make Compost? • Hosting Garden Allies
  • Part 3: Plants for the Composter's Garden
    How Plants Interact with Compost • The Legume Family • The Tomato Family • The Cucumber Family • Compost Fodder Crops
  • Appendix
    Glossary • Further Reading From Compost Gardeners • Compost Gardening Resources • Hardiness Zone Map • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Excerpt from page 12.

Like most gardeners who believe in the powers of compost, we followed directions we picked up from dozens of books and magazine articles, and from composting guides published by Cooperative Extension Service professionals and wate-management experts. We were repaid with pretty good results. Still, we sensed that there were some pieces of the puzzle missing, and we wondered if there were better ways to avail our gardens of the benefits of compost without facing endless work and frustration.

It's amazing what you can learn when you put aside ideas about the way things are supposed to work and pay attention to what actually happens in your garden. You may be surprised to discover that you can make better compost more easily by working with Mother Nature instead of working against her. Fortunately, she is a patient and persistent teacher as shown in the following quick examples:

  • Compost in place. For years we noticed how the soil beneath old compost piles turned dark and curbly before it was touched with a turning fork. Instead of wasting this wonderful process in a remote corner, we moved it into the garden with techniques including layered Comforter Compost (see page 154) and Banner Batches of compost that "walked" toward where we needed them to go each time we turned them (see page 140).
  • Garden in compost. After many seasons of watching volunteer pumpkin and winter squash vines tumble out of our old compost piles, we realized that these plants really like growing in compost. We began experimenting with the method we now call Grow Heaps-special compost piles that double as planting beds for compost-loving crops (see page 163).
  • Enlist earthworms. Providing settings in which earthworms could help with composting made sense, but we asked ourselves: Is it really necessary to buy a special kind of worm and bin, and manage the worm bins in a particular way? In addition to saving time an dmoney, working out th ebasics of a metod we call Catch-and-Release Vermicomposting (see chapter 7) has made working with earthworms more fun and rewarding for us and for our gardens.

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