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How do you make gold out of garbage? Compost!

Compost may not be pretty, but for the gardener it’s gold. Learn more at the Master Gardeners’ seminar. UC REGENTS
Compost may not be pretty, but for the gardener it’s gold. Learn more at the Master Gardeners’ seminar. UC REGENTS

Q: I’ve been saving kitchen scraps and trying to make compost but I just end up with a big soggy mess. What am I doing wrong?

— Rickie Buttman,

Arroyo Grande

A: These days, responsible gardeners are more aware than ever of the importance of maintaining sustainable practices in the garden.

Composting is one perfect example of this concept — recycling kitchen and yard waste to create what is often referred to as “nature’s gift to the gardener.” Well-developed compost encourages earthworms and other beneficial organisms, provides nutrients to the soil, improves soil characteristics and drainage, and reduces landfill waste.

Creating a healthy compost pile, however, is not without its challenges. Improperly prepared, a pile of waste scraps can introduce weeds and disease into the soil, and can attract various pests. The pile must include the right proportion of nitrogen and carbon, be kept evenly moist, and be well aerated for the composting process to work.

The San Luis Obispo Master Gardeners are well trained in proper composting technique, and are enthusiastic about educating local gardeners. The next in the ongoing series Advice to Grow By will be a comprehensive two-hour discussion of the fundamentals of composting. Topics to be discussed include:

The difference between compost and mulch;

The benefits of composting;

Varied techniques of building a compost pile;

Worm composting;

Correct use of finished compost;

Appropriate materials to be included in compost; and

Managing composting problems.

The seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden, 2156 Sierra Way. There will be adequate time for your questions to be answered. Wear a hat, bring a friend, and join us for a morning of education and camaraderie!

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