I'm a big user of homemade compost and have made a lot of observations over the years, but of course I'm still learning. So I'd like to hear about other people's experiences and opinions, plus any bits of wisdom from soil specialists.
I'm curious about the differences when using only a couple inputs into making compost versus using a wide diverse number. Is one better than the other in all situations, or does it depend upon the situation? Can single ingredient compost work? Has anyone experimented in their garden to see which kind of compost results in better plants or more food production? Which results in better soil test results? Which results in more soil microbes and beneficial soil life?
My own compost piles are very diverse, using lots of different ingredients. But I hear other people using only a couple ingredients, such as pine needles and autumn leaves.
So I guess my base question is ........ How is polycukture compost (compost made from multiple diverse ingredients) different from monoculture compost (1 or 2 base ingredients)?
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
More diverse compost means, a broader spectrum of nutrients incorporated within. Different sources of organic matter, often accumulate different micro and macro nutrient densities, based on the plant species, and the plants part used in making the compost. Those different nutrients can effect how your compost breaks down and can also have some effect on the biome present in your compost The biome in compost can also shift depending on the stages and age of the compost. If you understand your compost ingredients well, you can make custom compost with a targeted nutrient profile, based on the nutrient characteristics of the ingredients you add, to target spacific nutrient needs of a soil: that is if you also understand how the environment of your composting situation, may also effect those nutrients in the course of making the compost. Personally I prefer diverse compost, but all compost made with healthy ingredients is good, and I would use mono compost too, without hesitation. Horse manure makes a great mono compost, and its easy to find in bulk. That same mono compost also makes great worm bedding, feeds the soil biome, and will be a great base compost/mulch layer to diversify from with other available imputs.