A pile of trash?
When I was designing the header for this post, I initially wanted to use a pile of rotten fruit as the background image. Then I decided not to do it for asthetic reasons. But yeah, compost is basically a pile of rotten/rotting fruit and other organic materials, like wood and egg shells.
Imagine you're in a forest. What do you see on the ground? If it's fall (autumn) there will be lots of leaves and dead shrubs on the ground. Why? Because they can't survive the winter because of low temperature, less light and less NUTRIENTS! The leaves, fruit and whatever else is on the ground are now converted into nutrients, that the plants can use in the next growing season! So it's one big cycle.
How do I create compost at home?
Collect leaves from the garden, coffee grounds, egg shells, potato peels and other organic materials which you would normally throw out. Buy or DIY your own compost cube and dumb all of the stuff in there. It will break down, but it will take quite a long time. Let's go back to the forest: the organic matter is spread out, i.e. it receives a lot of aeration. Through winds and animals it is thrown around. So what we ultimately want is good aeration and some movement. The smaller the pieces, the bigger the overall surface area, the quicker it will break down.
Why is it better than store-bought fertilizer?
Store-bought fertilizer is manufactured synthetically, not naturally. When it gets into groundwater or rivers it can pose a threat to organisms. Nature knows what it's doing, otherwise it wouldn't have been here for so long. Use the natural way - and if you don't want to wait and want to start your garden now (which I understand), try finding a store or factory that sells compost!
Alright, to get new nutrients from old stuff, we need time, air and movement. Collect organic matter in a box or composter and look out for many air inlets (holes). Take a shovel or dung fork and mix it around once in a while (every other day for 20 seconds). Have an awesome time gardening!
COMMENT: Have you had any experience with compost? What are you planning on planting?