Composting is the act of taking organic material and allowing it to decompose, creating a rich organic stew that is great for plants and soil. To learn more about what composting is, read composting 101.
The benefits of composting are many. There are a ton of reasons why it’s good for your garden, which we’ll cover later, but first let’s look at why it’s good for the environment.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
There are many environmental benefits that come from composting. Most of these are pretty negligible on the small scale, but if the majority of the planet were to adopt composting, it would make a significant difference.
First, the act of gardening itself creates more plants in the world. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2) and breath out oxygen (O2), reducing the amount of the former in the atmosphere and thus reducing the greenhouse effect. Compost means healthier gardens and more plants, therefore less CO2.
Second, compost increases the retention of the soil. This mean that soil needs to be watered less. It also means it holds on to pesticides, resulting in less runoff into local water systems.
Third, and probably most important: having a compost heap reduces the waste produced by the average household. By a lot. It has been estimated that 50-70% of the waste produced by a household is organic material. With a compost heap, this is turned into useful material for your garden instead of trash. The environmental effects here are three-fold: less CO2 produced by garbage trucks transporting this material to dumps, less space being used for landfill, and less organic material sitting in dumps and releasing methane into the atmosphere.
THE BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING FOR YOUR GARDEN
Consistently adding composted material to your garden has many benefits to the structure of your soil. It will help it retain moisture and nutrients, and increase the movement of water and air within the soil. It will also help prevent compaction and erosion.
Chemical and Biological Benefits
There are also chemical and biological benefits to the regular addition of composted material to your garden.
Composted material naturally stabilizes the pH balance of a soil. You can also play around with this, creating a slightly acidic or alkaline compost material to shift the pH of the soil in that direction.
Composted material has an abundance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, essential nutrients to the soil, which are release gradually. There are also other nutrients available in it, such as calcium and magnesium, which are good for the garden.
As mentioned above, adding composted material allows soil to hold onto water and nutrients better, so less is needed. On the flip side, it also binds with contaminants, such as pesticides or petroleum, reducing absorption by plants and run off into water sources. In fact, composted material is sometimes used as a water filtering mechanism.
Adding composted material to a garden increases the presence of organisms that are good for your soil and plants, helping with material breakdown and nutrient absorption.
It increases the presence of earthworms, which move organic matter around and increase the movement of air and water within the soil.
It also helps decrease the chances of plant disease.
FOR RELATED ARTICLES, CHECK OUT HOW TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF YOUR SOIL AND WORM COMPOSTING: VERMICOMPOSTING FOR FUN AND PROFIT.
Good luck and stay prepared!