Great gardens and great lawns begin with great soil, and great soil is built with compost. Compost is Nature’s finest soil conditioner and fertilizer and is really the miracle cure for all types of soil. It loosens up clay and allows water to infiltrate rather than run off during a rain. As a soil conditioner, a one to three inch layer of compost tilled in four to six inches deep will aerate, create proper soil texture and supply nutrients for the roots of vegetables, flowers and lawn grasses. As a mulch, apply one to three inches of compost to trees, shrubs, flowers or vegetable gardens. For lawns, apply a half-inch layer of compost in the fall. Just rake in and water. Have you ever tried making your own compost’ Instead of throwing your vegetable scraps down the disposal or in the trash, find a small area in your back yard and start a little experiment. Add in coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable peelings, grass clippings and leaves (non of these items smell). No yard waste should ever been sent to the landfill. If you like a clean, manicured look and think that grass clippings must be caught and leaves raked, then go ahead and do that, but be sure to make use of the clippings and leaves as compost to be used as a mulch to retain moisture, control soil temperatures and supply dozens of nutritional needs. Compost piles can be free-standing or enclosed with wire. To make compost, the microbes need air, water, carbon material for energy and protein (nitrogen) to build their bodies. Start adding organic materials as they become available. Use all kitchen and yard organic waste except meat. Add the carbon materials first (leaves, bark, wood chips and dried grass) then add the nitrogen materials a little at a time (kitchen waste and green vegetable matter). Keep moist (like a squeezed-out sponge) and turn and mix. Making compost is as much an art as it is a science. The best way to learn to make good compost is by doing it and not giving up. Composting is good ecology because you are making plant food and soil conditioner Nature’s own way, with little or no expense to your pocketbook. If you would like more information on composting, please call us on Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Extension Office at 597-1295. We are there to help answer your gardening questions.