Composting in the Japanese Garden, - By Diana Zadorozhna and Isabela Machado

Composting in the Japanese Garden, - By Diana Zadorozhna and Isabela Machado

What is going on in the Japanese Garden?

- By Diana Zadorozhna and Isabela Machado




As part of CEU Edible Courtyard, a compost pile was created in the CEU Japanese Garden in attempt to create a closed – cycle garden, which would limit the need to bring in compost and manures from area farms Composting is a way of recycling elements that are necessary to the biological cycles, such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potash, trace minerals and microorganisms. It is especially beneficial for improving the structure of the soil, e.g. good aeration, water retention and resilience to erosion; and for providing nutrients for plant growth (Jeavons 2002).

The pile represents a bin made of wood slats, which is filled with different layers of organic matter. The filling of the pile and creation of compost is a gradual process and it will take at least three months for the compost to be ready to use. A simple recipe for composting includes alternating layers of "green" and "brown" materials.

The brown layers provide high carbon content material, while the green provide nitrogen. The brown layers here include shredded CEU recycling paper. As green matter, weeds and trimmings collected in the garden were used. Some vegetable and fruit peelings were added as well.

There are different ways that composting can occur in nature: in the form of manures, in the form of plants and animals that decay in the soil, in the form of roots that decay beneath the surface of the soil after harvesting (Jeavons 2002).

The location for the Japanese Garden’s pile was chosen considering the main conditions required for the composting process, such as avoidance of direct exposure to the sun andwind. At the same time, it should be kept moist and provide contact with and atmosphere for organisms to decompose the organic matter, ensuring enough warmth and moisture (Aggie Horticulture 2009).

For ensuring sufficient moisture content, the pile should be regularly watered. In this sense, rainfall in the early summer facilitated the process of pile management.

When compost becomes “dark and rich-looking” (Jeavons 2002) and previous contents are no longer identifiable, it is ready to be used. At this point, the organic matter initially added is already transformed and will serve to grow new plants.



Aggie Horticulture. 2009. Building and Maintaining a Compost Pile. In Don’t Bag ItTM- Compost

It!! URL:


Jeavons, J. 2002. How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land

You Can Imagine (and fruits, nuts, berries, and other crops). Ten Speed Press: Berkeley.