This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
Mixed and rotted vegetable matter, particularly manure and litter, used as a fertilizer and amendment.
The mixture of bulky fertilizing materials known as compost, while of little importance to the general farmer, plays an important part in garden practices. Many of the garden crops must be made in a very short time, or are of delicate feeding habits. Their food, therefore, must be easily assimilable. It is good practice to pile all coarse manures, sods, weeds, or any rubbish available for the purpose, in big flat heaps (Fig. 1043), to ferment and rot before being applied to the garden soil. If desired, chemical manures, especially superphosphate (dissolved bone or South Carolina rock) and potash (muriate or kainit), may be added to make the compost the richer. By spading or forking the heaps over a few times at reasonable intervals, a homogeneous mass is easily obtained, which can be applied in greatest liberality without fear, or more sparingly, in accordance with the needs of the particular crop. Of equal, if not still greater importance, is the compost heap which gives soil for greenhouse benches, flats, hotbeds and coldframes.
This compost is principally made of sods shaved off a rich pasture or meadow and piled in alternate layers with stable manure, more of the latter being used for forcing succulent crops, and less in growing plants which should be short and stocky, like cabbage or tomato plants. Garden Utter may be added to the pile, as leaves and trimmings. All compost, heaps, during dry weather, need frequent and thorough moistening with water, or, better, with liquid manure. Turn several times during the year, to ensure thorough rotting of the materials. T. Greiner.
Fig. 1043. A compost heap.