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Compost Matters: The Pumpkin Patch Proof

You want proof that compost matters in your garden? Check this out. A year ago next week, I moved from Ohio to Maine and promptly started filling up a compost bin. Two weeks ago, I turned out my first big batch of compost from the bin, dug it into a spot of soil, and planted some pumpkin seeds. Today, those pumpkin sprouts look like this:

Pumpkin sprouts in regular compost, July 2 2010

The foremost pumpkin sprout you see measures 8 inches across and, as you can see, is already putting out a secondary leaf.

As a test, I loosened up and de-weeded a patch of plain old yard dirt just a few feet away from the first. Then I planted some more pumpkin seeds in this second patch, using seeds from the same package. This plain old dirt patch gets the same amount of sun and has received the same amount of water as the compost-based pumpkin patch. Today, the pumpkin seeds in the second patch look like this:

Pumpkin sprouts in regular dirt, July 10 2010

Fewer of the pumpkin seeds have germinated, and as you can tell the ones that have sprouted are not thriving. The primary sprouts in the patch of plain old dirt measure an inch across and have not even finished unfurling.

This little test makes clear to me that compost can work wonders in a garden. If you needed just one more reason to start composting, consider this to be it.

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