Image by Del Barrett

Compost

Wild Willow Farm is excited to welcome you to our self-guided tour! Follow the signs around the farm and  learn about each landmark along the way. Thank you to local Chula Vista High School students for helping to create content for each QR code! 

If you know someone with a well-managed compost bin, they will tell you it needs four ingredients; carbon, nitrogen, water, and air. Browns like dry leaves, twigs, shredded paper, and straw represent carbon. Greens like food scraps and grass represent nitrogen. Add a little bit of water and air through turning and you have all the ingredients you need to make healthy soil.

 

The benefits of composting...

  • Water Savings: healthy soil acts like a sponge and stores water, preventing runoff and erosion and improving water quality by filtering pollutants.

  • Nutritious Food: healthy soil increases nutrients and strengthens the plants to fight pests and disease.

  • Economic Security: Healthy soil improves farm productivity and increases profits. Healthy soil mitigates against extreme weather like floods and drought.

  • Environmental Benefits: Healthy soil reverses global warming by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere which it acts as a greenhouse gas.

 

Compost is the single most important amendment for organic regenerative gardeners and farmers. It increases the health of the soil, which promotes healthy plant growth. Composting is an ideal way to turn food waste into a valuable resource and composting animal manure and other waste reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And as a tool to mitigate climate change, compost increases the soil’s capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Composting produces high-quality input for soil and plant health in the farm and garden. Compost made from leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste, manure, weeds, and twigs supports soil fertility, creates a good environment for beneficial soil microbes, suppresses plant disease, and can be good for the climate. According to Dr. Whendee Silver of UC Berkeley, “Composting manure actually decreases greenhouse gas emissions. We’re measuring greenhouse gas emissions from the composting process; it appears that composting if you do it well, leads to relatively low emissions compared to allowing the material to naturally decompose, which can lead to carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions.  If you put the material into a well-managed compost pile and keep that compost pile turned – weekly turning is sufficient – that results in relatively low methane emissions and very low, undetectable emissions from nitrous oxide.”

 

There are multiple methods of composting...

  • Thermophilic composting: Can be done on a small or large scale, is an aerobic process in which microorganisms consume carbon and generate heat that can kill weed seeds.

  • Vermicomposting: Typically done on a small scale in a bin, uses red worms that eat kitchen scraps and plant residues, produces nutrient and microbial-rich castings that have similar benefits to thermophilic compost but doesn’t kill weed seeds. Vermicompost, unlike thermophilic compost, has naturally occurring plant growth hormones.

  • Compost Tea: Researched and popularized by Dr. Elaine Ingham of the Soil Food Web Inc., is a process in which quality compost is brewed into a tea that greatly increases the beneficial microbial population so that relatively small amounts of the tea can be sprayed on large acreage to increase soil biology and fertility.

  • Sheet composting: Popularized by permaculturists, is a low labor method that is done in place in the garden bed. Ecological farmer Bob Cannard explains how to do sheet composting.

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