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Returning to the Soil – Compost in Balance

22. May 2015

For years a small and highly enthusiastic group of friends with a special interest for earth organisms and growing processes have been working on a garden compost system at the end of the parking lot at Dharma Mountain.

This group is very happy to share the secret behind why so many flowers, veggies and herbs manage to grow, thrive, boost, stay strong and resistant throughout the rough summer season here in our beautiful and exotic Dharma Mountain garden!

Vibhoda Holten, the spokes person of the composting team, starts sharing why its sooo good to do composting;

First of all, if you are a simple meditator working on finding the right balance in life, composting is also about finding the right balance …- in the compost!

– How can we get the right balance in the compost?

The compost is like an organism, and needs to be treated as such, because it is something living. When you set up and attend your compost, you need to find and keep the right balance between the elements of water, air and soil, like most other living creations on this planet, this makes the content of the compost.

Outdoor compost piles at Dharma. Every year several piles are made.

 – But then… what to do if your pile of compost has gone astray…?

If a composting process goes right it doesn´t smell much. After a while you can smell how your compost is doing. In fact, it should never smell bad, and for a compost lover it has an earthy pleasant smell when the process is in balance.

 If your compost turns too wet, it will start to smell bad due to lack of oxygen. The best way of correcting this is to turn the compost and add more woodchips or sawdust to bring it back into balance.

The material high in fibers has more structure and will make the compost more loose, air will more easily come in and the microorganisms in the compost will get sufficient energy. But if it goes too loose it means its too much air in it and you can add some nutrient-rich material like kitchen waste or fresh grass.

If it goes too compact it’s a sign that its too little air in it and it will start to smell badly… then you need to find your pitch fork and turn it around and bring in some fresh air! If it reaches a too high temperature it will start to “burn”. This can happen in the beginning of the composting process. You can reduce the temperature by turning the compost with a pitch fork. 

Vibhoda attending Dharma Mountain kitchen compost bin.

 – Where can you use the compost?

When the compost is mature – you can use it on anything that grows, like grass, flowers, vegetables, berry bushes or any kind of bushes. The best time to apply it is in May because the release of nutrients from the compost takes some time.

 – So why is it soooo good?

Composting is a practical way of healing the soil, the earth we are living on. You add nutrients, micro organisms and organic matter to the soil. You create humus in the compost, a complex organic matter, that, added to the soil, the soil will retain moisture much better, so it doesnt dry out and keeps the nutrients much better. By improving the soil, you improve anything growing from the soil.

Basically you use your own waste to build up the fertility in your own place!

And compost is something which is not possible in nature, it doesn´t happen in nature, only man can do it, but you work with nature by doing it. It can be your contribution to nature.

Should we believe Vibhoda, attending compost is also a great meditation.

Healthy flowers grow in abundance fed with high quality compost.


  • One third bulky material with a rich structure (chopped branches and tree bark, dead leaves and grass, bulky material separated from previous composts etc.)
  • One third medium to fine material (straw, leaves, crop residues etc.)
  • One third fine highly nutritious material, (household wastes, fresh grass etc.)
  • 5 to 10 % soil.

Make repeated layers of the different mixtures until you have used all your material. A good pile of compost can be 1- 1 ½ m long and 1 – 1 1/2 meter high.

When a compost pile is prepared well, the temperature will increase, reaching 50-60 degrees after a few days. The process is rapid in the beginning, with high temperature, which will slowly decrease as the composting is proceeding and the compost maturing. In the beginning it is highly recommended to turn the compost once every week in order to get air into it and keep the quality of the compost high. Also, a few weeks before you start using it its good to turn it.

Your compost pile should stay there until you see its been broken down and you can no longer see the particles. The outdoor composting normally takes 2-3 months, depending on the materials and the process.

NB: don’t get surprised if your compost is shrinking, naturally the compost will diminish by almost 50%.


  • Get started during summer season, or just start when you have enough material!
  • Composting is the best exercise; and you get outdoor fresh air in a smell good environment.
  • You learn to use and it sharpens your senses because its a bit of science and a bit of an art, and you need to be sensitive to what you see and smell and feel.
  • Attending compost is also a great meditation.
  • And last but not least – its just very facinating!

Nandika_blog Dharma Mountain
Nandika works in the administration at Dharma Mountain. She loves writing and paper cutting. 





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