Compost. To an unknown observer it’s dirt—steamy dirt with worms and bugs crawling through it, and yes, it smells kind of like feet. But to gardeners, it’s gold.
Compost is created from food scraps (veggies, fruits, grains), leaves, sticks and other garden debris. It then is left to rot (hence the smell of feet), sitting for about 3 months and occasionally turned by the gardener, so it can break down into a nutrient-rich, soil-like material.
Gardeners need a healthy balance of nutrients for their plants, and compost definitely delivers; it helps strengthen the soil so that plants can easily root and grow. Compost also keeps water in the soil for those hot, dry summer days when plants need moisture the most.
But not all compost is created equal, which is why we are having the first-ever compost competition this year at the DC State Fair. Judges will be able to tell which gardener’s compost has the most nutrients by assessing composition (are there living things in the compost?), consistency (will it retain moisture?), bouquet (how does it smell?), garden-appeal (will it work in your garden?), and the story behind the compost.
Learn more about the first DC State Fair Compost Contest, and register to compete by September 5. You can drop off your container of compost at Old City Farm and Guild on September 12 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Interested in making your own garden gold? Click here to learn about the basics of composting.