You’ve probably heard that a compost pile is a good thing to have in your garden, but do you really know what the benefits of composting are?
1. Composting is great for your garden.
If you’re a gardener, then you already know that compost makes for amazing plants. The reason it so good is because it’s one of main components of healthy soil. For happy plants, the soil must have a good balance of sand, clay, water, air, soil organisms, and organic matter. Compost is pure organic matter, also known as humus. Plus it helps keep air and water levels healthy, and of course, hosts a thriving community of organisms.
Don’t try to use your compost until it’s completely broken down. It should be rich, crumbly soil with no identifiable chunks. You can either mix it into soil or simply spread a layer on top. That method has the added benefit of helping keep weeds at bay.
2. Composting is great for your wallet.
If you’re a gardener, composting means big savings. The only cost is a small setup, or maybe none at all. All you need is vegetable scraps, leftover food, yard waste, and paper waste. It’s all that you would normally consider “trash,” but it will save you the expense of buying compost from a gardening store. It can even save you on fertilizer, too. Once your compost system is providing you with a steady source of nutrient-dense compost, you probably won’t need to buy fertilizer anymore. You can look into the process of making “compost tea” for an even more effective alternative to fertilizer. Compost tea is fairly easy to make if you compost with a worm bin.
3. Composting is great for the planet.
When you compost, you’ll no longer throw away vegetable scraps or leftovers. This reduces the volume of waste that takes up space in landfills, which pollute the atmosphere with methane and when incinerated, carbon dioxide. It’s a way to lighten your load on the waste stream and know that your kale stems and watermelon rinds will turn into something useful, rather than a burden on the planet.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a banana peel decaying in a landfill is the same as it decaying in a backyard compost pile. Organic matter needs oxygen to decay, which it doesn’t get in the closed environment of a landfill. In a landfill, the decaying garbage just produces methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gasses.
Making your own compost reduces other carbon emissions, too. You’ll no longer have to fill yard waste bags or put paper or cardboard in your recycling bin. That reduces the carbon footprint of your city’s waste management system. And, the compost you buy in a gardening supply store wasn’t made the same way if you were to make it in your garden. Commercial compost comes with carbon emissions, not just from transport, but from production.
4. Composting is great for saving water.
If you garden, that is. The rich nutrients in high-quality compost will help your plants grow stronger, healthier root systems. More robust root systems actually reduce runoff by holding onto more water. That means your soil will stay moist longer and you’ll have to water less often. That’s vitally important for regions that suffer from drought.
5. Composting is great for reconnecting with nature.
Composting is the quintessential example of permaculture principles in action. It mimics the natural process of dead plants decomposing into nutrients for living plants. By recreating this process, you’ll have the most efficient, self-contained way to grow and eat food. By treating your waste the way nature would, you lessen your impact on the environment and ecosystems around you. By composting, you’re removing some of your entanglement in the industrial waste system that is so inefficient and harmful for the planet. While you may or may not aspire to live completely “off the grid” some day, composting is a great first step toward restoring the harmony of humanity with nature.