Monthly Archives: April 2014

Add Soil to Compost Pile?

You might ask yourself, “Should I add soil to compost pile?”  Maybe somewhere along the way you have heard some information like this! In the Master Gardener world they insist on calling “dirt” soil.  We could have just as easily asked if I should add dirt to my compost pile or compostumbler.  I tend to rebel against the more sophisticated label of soil and mostly use the word dirt!

It is an excellent idea to add soil to any compost pile.  Because the soil is teeming with bacteria, fungi, worms and other living things that break down vegetable matter into humus for your garden.  The final product from a compost pile is called humus.  A more general term for a single celled organism such as these bacteria and fungi is a microbe. These microbes and other living things speed up the process of composting by introducing  a bunch of them in the beginning.  And when I say a bunch–I mean a bunch.

There are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the earth.   This fact comes from a Ohio State University Extension fact sheet.  So you can see why adding just a small amount of dirt to a compost pile can make a big difference.  You are giving the compost a jump-start by adding all these microbes at once.

Should I Add Soil to Compost Pile?

Should I add soil to compost pileHere you can see the beginnings of my latest compost pile in my compostumbler lots of leaves and dirt–the kitchen scraps are mixed in. And I definitely added soil which you can see in the picture.  This soil will jumpstart the process of composting.

Other “compost critters” are the sow bug and the pill bug.  These are actually not bugs but crustaceans which are relatives of shrimp. It is hard to tell these critters apart but one sure way is that pill bugs can roll up into a little ball which a lot of kids call a roly-poly!  Both the pill bug and the sow bug eat the decomposing vegetable matter and then they create their own manure which helps create the humus which is so good for our gardens!