I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my
soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. Always,
the soil must come first."
- Marion Cran, If I Were Beginning Again
is natures way of recycling. In your hands, it is dark
and crumbly. Near your nose, it is sweetly aromatic. It is
the basis for the Earths creation of soil. Whenever
a plant or animal dies, its remains decay with the help of
soil microorganisms and larger soil critters and are eventually
reduced to an earth like substance. Composting plays a huge
role in the garden:
Compost builds good soil structure
Compost helps dry soil to hold moisture
Compost stops erosion
Compost suppresses weeds
Compost improves aeration
Compost neutralizes toxins in the soil
Compost helps to release nutrients in forms plants
can use, when they need them most
the Language of the Soil Food Web
a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life:
worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds
the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very
- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America (1977)
We are in a life-dependent exchange with the soil under our
feet, whether we like it or not. We depend on healthy soil
to support plant life, the source of our food and oxygen.
Soil is a complex living system. Plants require basic raw
materials like minerals and sugars to be healthy. So do we.
Soil creatures like beetles, bacteria, fungi, and worms are
busy creating conditions that allow plants and people to absorb
these nutrients. The decomposition of waste from leaves, dead
insects, manure and food scraps returns important materials
to the soil. The life cycle permits nutrients to flow from
soil to plant and moves forward only with the help of the
microorganisms and other creatures that make up the soil community.
Soil critters maintain the fertility of the soil. Getting
to know these friends can be fun! Befriend the
garden bug and you are set to inherit good earth.
Compost builds good soil structure. It is also a giant step
towards recycling wastes, conserving precious energy reserves,
and regaining control of our food supplies. Why throw feed
peelings and yard clippings into the garbage when you can
harvest their nutrients by turning them into soil enriching
compost? Learn the best method for your backyard.
Composting 101 Workshops
Take a home composting workshop offered by Skagit County Public
Works, Solid Waste Division! Workshops happen several times
each season, taught by Callie Martin, Waste Reduction/Recycling
Education Specialist for the Solid Waste Division for Skagit
County. She is a lifelong practitioner of healthy soils and
organic gardening. With a background in Modern & Classical
Languages and Environmental Education from Western Washington
University, Callie teaches workshops with a history of varied
teaching experiences- some of those abroad. She brings lots
of enthusiasm to her work as a compost educator.
Learn how easy it is to compost your food scraps by harnessing
the work of worms in an upcoming vermicomposting workshop.
Class participants will learn the basics of worm bin design,
care, and feeding. Those interested can purchase supplies
on a materials list and build their own indoor worm bin as
part of the class.
Yards are fun, beautiful, great spaces for relaxing. However,
in taking care of them, we often use water inefficiently,
produce a lot of waste, and overuse chemicals that are bad
for the environment and our families' health. By working with
nature in your yard, you can have a great looking landscape
that is easier to care for and healthier for families, pets,
wildlife and our great Northwest environment.
to find compost for your garden
purchase high-quality, made-in-the-Skagit-Valley compost from
several local sources:
Soils, 13260 Ball Road, Mt. Vernon. 424-0199. $17/yard,
load your own; $19.50/yard delivered, minimum 10 yards.
Farms, 19111 Gear Road, Burlington. 757-6376. $30/yard loaded
on your pickup.
of LaConner Wastewater Facilities, 12154 Chilberg Road,
LaConner. Load your own for free any time you want; $5 -
$13/yard loaded by a tractor .
Land Bark and Topsoils, 12469 Reservation Road, Anacortes.
Cedar Grove compost; $30/yard, chicken compost; $30.50/yard
nutria-mulch mix of animal and wood compost. Can deliver.
Farms, 17636 State Route 20 W., Burlington. $4.50/25-lb.
bag 100% chicken manure organic dry compost.
Wranglers of Skagit County, 13913 Avon Allen Road, Mount
Vernon. (360) 424-8006. Sell vermicompost and red wriggler
composting worms; $20/lb.