Definition: The process by which organic materials are transformed into a nutrient-rich soil-building compound through an intensive mixing and decomposition process.
Composting in the Forest Garden:
Regular and repeated application of compost can restore vitality and productivity to even the most degraded soils. Compost adds organic matter to the soil, which helps soils hold nutrients and water. Over time, compost will even improve the tilth, or physical condition, of soils.
Healthy compost piles host many beneficial insects and microorganisms that consume and break down the compost material, creating a nutrient-rich product that is used in place of synthetic fertilizers. These organisms remain in the compost when transferred to the Forest Garden, where they will burrow into the ground, creating networks of tunnels around the root systems of the plants that improving aeration, tilth, and water infiltration. This allows for enhanced soil fertility, better root growth, water holding capacity, and drainage.
Forest Gardeners either prepare compost in pits if they are in a drier climate, or piles if they are in a more humid climate. Most Forest Gardeners will have multiple pits or piles on their plot to ensure a steady supply, as the full composting process takes up to 45 days.