A garden is a place outdoors where plants and flowers are grown. It can be a residential garden or a commercial or industrial one.
When it comes to growing vegetables, it’s important to use good organic practices that help keep pests and diseases in check. Crop rotation is a good way to do that.
“It’s a craft, making compost like we do,” says Bridget Elworthy, one of the co-founders of Land Gardeners. “It’s like making wine, although making wine seems very glamorous, and making compost is very unglamorous. So maybe it’s like making yogurt.”
Flamingo Estate, a private garden that offers such products as honey from the homes of celebrities Julianne Moore and Will Ferrell, now sells $75, 9-pound bags of its own composted manure. The product, called the Good Shit, sold out over the holidays after Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop put it on its Christmas gift guide. A spring release had a wait list even before it came out.
It’s all part of a zeitgeisty moment for compost. For do-it-yourselfers looking to recycle their kitchen scraps, the $500 Reencle compost bin, which says it can break down food in under 24 hours, was one of the buzzier gadgets at the trade show CES this year.
The Six Senses Ibiza, a resort in Spain where rooms start at around $769 a night, composts its food waste from its restaurants and uses the material on the hotel’s farm. The resort will begin offering compost workshops this summer, says Adao Zerio, the resort’s sustainability supervisor.
Bespoke compost is catching on with rookie gardeners who became first-time suburban homeowners during the pandemic. “In parts of Rhode Island, where old-money New Englanders meet new-money New Yorkers, gardening and compost has become a staple of cocktail-party conversations,” says Rebecca Wright.
Formerly the president of boutique fitness brand The Class, Ms. Wright moved to Stonington, Conn., and opened a summer farm stand shop, William Wright and Co. She says customers snapped up small bags of compost she was selling for $20 from Vita Nova, a Rhode Island business. Ms. Wright says the compost helped give her “gorgeous, deep red tomatoes that taste amazing.”
At the Spencer family estate, Land Gardeners abides by a simple formula most composters use, mixing nitrogen-rich materials like fresh greens and manure with carbon-rich materials like wood and straw. The company also adds clay from Althorp Estate’s grounds, as well as a charcoal-like material they buy locally. The elements go into long piles, called windrows, and it all gets tumbled by a machine-pulled turner. The result is a concentrated mix that Land Gardeners says works with just a small amount added to the soil.
Richard Christiansen, the founder and owner of Flamingo Estate, takes into account the diets of the animals whose manure goes into his compost. His chickens and goats eat like L.A. celebrities, feasting on leftover organic fruits and vegetables from his farm’s weekly harvest.
“Our goats and chickens listen to music, nibble on wild sage and eucalyptus and roam the property freely,” he says. “They are generally always in a great mood.”
Mr. Christiansen says his farm has been met with ridicule over his manure’s cost since the Goop mention, but noted the price takes into account fair labor wages and responsible and organic farming practices.
“Mother Nature is the last great luxury, and we are the purveyors of her luxury goods,” he says.
Worm castings, alfalfa hay and hand-harvested seaweed go into the mix made by Steven Wynbrandt, a compost farmer based in Los Angeles who sells small bags of a concentrated mix known as compost tea for $27 a pound. He also uses a fungally rich additive he creates, and cow manure from organic dairy farms.
Irena Stathis, a 37-year-old herbalist in L.A., says her garden has fewer weeds and her herbs are more lush since discovering Mr. Wynbrandt’s compost a few years ago. “It’s like all the life of the forest floor,” Ms. Stathis says.
Jean Bonhotal, the director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute at Cornell University, says the different ingredients put into compost can make a difference in gardens, just like eating a varied diet is good for your health. She cautioned against buying bespoke composts from foreign regions and suggests gardeners try to find a local option.
“The cost and potential invasive organism you might be moving is not a good thing,” she adds.
Some find that more garden-variety compost works just fine. Yehuda Brum, a 41-year-old lawyer in Fair Lawn, N.J., has been tending to his tidy home garden for eight years. To care for his dahlias and zucchinis, he sprinkles in food scraps from his kitchen, such as crushed eggshells and coffee grounds. He also uses leaf compost he picks up free from his town’s recycling center.
“When you can get as much free leaves as you can carry out,” Mr. Brum says. “I don’t really see the need to invest in a $25 bag of poop.”
Write to Chavie Lieber at Chavie.Lieber@WSJ.com
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.