Fertilizer costs can get expensive and many food plotters will often cut back or eliminate fertilizer from their budgets—a mistake that leads to regret in the fall when food plots falter and a great deal of spring and summer effort goes to waste.
Rotating nitrogen-fixing legumes like clover into a food plot can alleviate some of the fertilizer issues. Another option is to add compost to the soil.
Compost will benefit your soil by:
- Enhancing soil quality
- Adding beneficial bacteria
- Contributing missing nutrients that legumes do not produce
- Aerating the soil
- Increasing soil moisture
- Giving young plants a boost of micronutrients
Compost will not necessarily replace pricy NPK-based commercial fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorous and potash) but it can reduce the amount you have to purchase.
Here’s how you can get nearly-free good compost:
- Create a pile, or better yet, make a bin to hold your compost pile
- There are two types of material, brown and green, used in composting. Brown materials tend to be dry and high in carbon or carbohydrates, like shredded newspaper or leaves. Green materials tend to be wet and high in protein and nitrogen, like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and grass clippings. A ratio of 1:1 brown to green is best for most compost piles.
- Larger piles are more efficient than smaller piles.
- Add water if the compost pile gets too dry.
Compost the right materials:
- Good for compost: grass clippings, leaves, twigs, wood ash, sawdust and wood chips, egg shells, coffee grounds, newspaper and cardboard (shredded)
- Do no compost meat, bones or fat, dairy products, oils, whole branches or logs, pet or human waste, charcoal briquette ash, sawdust or ash from treated wood.
Once the biological process ramps up, the pile will generate heat. If it starts to smell funny, add more brown material, turn the material over more often and cut back on the water or wet materials (green). An active compost pile can create a rich-black/brown material in as few as two to three weeks.