Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Home to the Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
Searcy, Ark. –
As gardens begin to explode with flowers and vegetables, the value of rich, productive
soil is easy to appreciate. Highly organic soil provides plants with many essential
minerals, good water holding capacity and adequate drainage. One of the best sources
of organic matter is compost, and one of the best times to think about beginning a
compost pile is right now. I made a visit to Judsonia yesterday to see my buddy,
Harold Bridges. We walked and talked, while practicing social distancing, about his
vegetable garden and what will become his sweet potato site. The soil looked black.
He’s been building that garden site for years and had just released a bunch of earthworms
to do their thing in the soil. I believe Harold’s garden soil is best described as
“Black Gold”. Compost yields a rich black soil additive that many gardeners refer
to as “Black Gold” because of its value to their plant material.
Composting is the biological decomposition of organic matter. Decomposition occurs
naturally, but it can be accelerated. Microorganisms, worms, and insects break organic
materials into compost. Compost contains nutrients that, when returned to the soil,
are used by plants. This is nature’s way of recycling.
Compost improves the structure of the soil by adding organic matter. In sandy soil,
compost holds moisture and helps to hold soil together. In heavy clay soil, compost
particles bind with clay particles to form larger particles. Surface water can drain
between larger particles. Surface layers of soil conditioned with compost retain
water better, and resist surface crusting and erosion.
Compost attracts earthworms. Their tunnels aerate the soil and improve drainage and
bring up minerals from the subsoil. Earthworm activity contributes to good soil structure.
Although compost is considered a soil conditioner rather than a fertilizer, it contains
both plant nutrients and essential trace elements such as calcium, potassium and phosphorous.
Some chemical fertilizers release elements so quickly that rain can leach them away
before plants derive much benefit. In compost, most of the nitrogen and phosphorous
are held in organic form and slowly released, making them available throughout the
Many organic materials are suitable for composting. Yard trimmings, such as leaves,
grass clippings, straw and non-woody plants, can decompose easily. Composting is
the combination of equal amounts of carbon matter (dry grass, chopped leaves, straw)
and nitrogen matter (green garden and kitchen waste).
The methods of composting differ depending on the time that the finished compost is
desired, and the materials and space available. Turning units require regular (weekly
or biweekly) maintenance. If kitchen wastes will be mixed with yard wastes, the turning
method is recommended. However, holding units or compost heaps may work when precautions
are taken to minimize pest problems. Turning the pile frequently helps avoid pest
problems. Yard wastes are generally not susceptible to pest problems - so slower,
low maintenance methods are suitable.
Holding units are used to hold yard and garden wastes until composting is complete.
This is the easiest, but slowest, way to compost. Material should be added as it
is generated; no turning is required.
Holding units can include circles of wire fencing or hardware cloth, old wooden
pallets wired together or wire framed in wood. Landscape timbers, concrete blocks
or rocks provide more permanent holding units. Holding units should be at least 3'
x 3' x 3'. In any case, units should allow for air circulation through sides and
back. Two or three units - one for fresh, one for maturing and a third for finished
compost - may be helpful.
Non-woody materials, such as grass clippings, crop wastes, weeds and leaves, will
compost in holding units but can take six months to two years. The process can be
hastened by chopping or shredding wastes, mixing high nitrogen and high carbon materials,
maintaining proper moisture and turning.
Since yard and garden waste can be added continuously, the stage of decomposition
varies from the top to the bottom of the compost pile. Generally the more finished
compost will be found near the bottom of the pile and partially decomposed material
near the top. Removing the compost and then forking it back into the holding unit
after three or four months will speed the rate of composting.
Once the compost at the bottom is finished, it can be removed and used. The less-decomposed
material can be moved back into the unit until the finished compost is uncovered.
Take advantage of gardening information available online at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/default.aspx. The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. For additional information or fact sheets
on building compost bins, you can contact your local county extension service. You
can also follow Sherri Sanders on Facebook @UADA.WhiteCountyAgriculture .
By Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy AR 72143 (501) 268-5394 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.