Garden, Silvopasture and Agroforestry

Compost Matters: Garden Compost vs. Orchard compost

I’ve beaten to death the idea of fungal dominance in the posts of the last week:

Fungal basics of mulching

How to think like a plant to be a successful cultivator

How to think like a plant to be a successful cultivator part 2

Mulch Matters 2: Different Types of Mulches for Different Types of Plants


Yet one concept remains unaddressed: compost.

Garden Compost

Most composters find pride it minimizing the time it takes to turn waste into black gold for the garden. Processes to do so typically consist of encouraging high temperature and frequent aeration by turning the pile.

What did we cover in the last week about microbial dominance of disturbed soils?  Bacterial dominance!

So a composter who does what I listed above has created bacterial soil that is great for annual vegetables, not so much for any species with woody stems.

Orchard compost

Composed identically to compost for the garden, orchard compost differs by a procedure that encourages fungal dominance. Based on the last week’s posts, you may have ascertained that this means:

Nitrogen and carbon materials are layered or mixed, then let sit unmoved for months as the fungal decomposers go to work! Once composted, fruit trees, berries, etc. are top dressed with the amendment that works with the biological goal of fungal dominance.


Simply put, use whatever means necessary to compost as quickly as possible for use in gardens but patiently allow fungal decomposers to produce orchard compost by working undisturbed.

As such, I have two compost piles side by side:

  1. One with careful temperature monitoring to find the ideal instance to aeate the pile in order to minimize the time it takes to compost. This is used in the garden.
  2. One with layered brown/green (carbon/nitrogen) that is left to its own devices. This will be spread in the orchard every fall.



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