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Woah! Slow down on the composting.

3 months ago

There is a widespread misunderstanding that the final product of composting, “humus”, is stable.

In fact, humas continuously decomposes over a period of years. That is why more compost is added to the garden every year. That is why no-till practices, which reduce the amount of oxygen available in the soil reduces the breakdown of humus and other organic matter in the soil. That is why top soil is typically less that a foot deep in many parts of the country, even after many thousands of years of organic material naturally being added.

Only in areas with very cold soil, such as Alaska, very acid soils, such as peat bogs, or very low oxygen levels (swamps/bogs) does the slow decomposition of organic matter result in the deep buildup of humus and organic material. (Peat bogs can become several hundred feet deep over many thousands of years.)

I recommend that when practicable, composting be done by incorporating the raw organic materials into the soil or used as a mulch. The organic material will decompose slowly and release nutrients over a longer period of time, and the soil will maintain a higher percentage of organic material.

With respect to seed or disease issues, incorporating the organic material into the soil will resolve many insect issues. If the garden plant residue is diseased, the soil will already contain diseased residue from disease spores from dropped leaves, remaining roots etc. . Crop rotation is an effective defense against soil-borne disease.

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