The Virtues of Compost Gardening

Unripe tomatoes

I’ve been composting for a number of years now. Originally I had a large cylindrical bin with a removable lid. This worked well for a while, but eventually the bin got old and started to pull apart at the seams. After several attempts to repair it, I finally decided to remove the outer casing in May of this year. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was tired of the old arrangement.

Within less than a month, I noticed small seedlings in the compost. I had put food scraps in it, including tomatoes, peppers, and squash, so I wasn’t too surprised. What surprised me, though, was how quickly these seedlings took hold and matured. After a month of watching from the sidelines, I started to intervene, reducing the number of seedlings so they wouldn’t choke each other out. But I didn’t think any of them would survive.

Tomato flowers

Now, after three months of daily watering and occasional weeding but not much else, I have four robust tomato plants with numerous blooms, two pepper plants with small buds, and two squash plants. Considering I’ve added no plant food to the nutrient-deficient soil other than the chicken bones from my food scraps, this is something of a minor miracle.

Unripe tomatoes in compost garden

Of course I could have gotten far more out of these plants if I had propagated them from seed much earlier in the year. That would have been ideal.

Compost garden with tomatoes, peppers, and squash

But if you knew how difficult it is to grow plants of any sort in the soil around here, you would understand how much of an accomplishment this is. And it all goes back to compost.

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4 thoughts on “The Virtues of Compost Gardening

  1. Yes! My favourite tomatoes were the accidental tomatoes that once grew intermingled with our beans when I chucked some of our compost onto them one year.


  2. Great post! I got a sweet potato and russet potato plant out of my compost earlier this year. I also just read about New Stone Age people (p. 12 n Weeds in the Urban Landscape), where they started cultivating plants from their refuse heaps, which were basically compost piles.


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