By Connie Nelson

I never used to roll my eyes when gardeners talked about their compost, describing ttexture and smell of their "black gold."

That was before I turned my first compost pile for the 7th time and found out that I, too, had completed compost, that I had made my own black gold.

It sounds lame to be excited about something like compost. But if you think about it, it's really cool. You put coffee grounds and leaves and rotten celery and the stems from a bouquet in a black bin. And you water, maybe. And you wait. And you get high-quality garden soil.

When you add compost to your garden, grass and around your trees and shrubs, you're helping to improve your soil. But new research shows compost also makes a good natural food. And if you spread your compost around plants once or twice a year, you can reduce or eliminate the need to feed. Cool huh?

If you're on the fence about composting, check out this blog post by the Star Tribune books editor, Laurie Hertzel.