Photo found on Flickr.com courtesy of NormanAck
Gardening generates a large amount of grass clippings, leaves, and other plant debris. Throwing out all of this material can rob the soil of key nutrients that plants need. Instead of throwing organic material into our rapidly filling landfills, you can transform the material into black gold for your yard and garden. Composting is a great way to dispose of unsightly organic waste and improve the quality of your soil at the same time. It’s win-win!
Composting keeps organic waste out of the landfill and returns valuable fertilizer to the earth. If you pay a disposal fee based on weight or the number of bags you throw out, composting will save you money right away and keep saving you money in the form of reduced fertilizer costs, watering, and pest control.
Did you know?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency:
“Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. waste stream, as documented by EPA. An estimated 56.9 percent of yard trimmings were recovered for composting or grasscycled in 2000, a dramatic increase from the 12 percent recovery rate in 1990. Accompanying this surge in yard waste recovery is a composting industry that has grown from less than 1,000 facilities in 1988 to nearly 3,800 in 2000.”
Compost bins use naturally occurring soil microorganisms to break down organic material like yard and garden debris and kitchen scraps. It can take years for full decomposition to occur in the wild, but a well managed compost bin or pile can do the job in months or weeks. The amount of time is reduced by providing optimal conditions for the microorganisms. These beneficial microorganisms break down dead plant matter into their component parts – the very same parts that your plants need to add new leaves, grow stronger roots, and produce tasty fruit and vegetables.
Compost not only adds nutrients to the soil – it also increases the ground’s ability to hold water. Compost is loose and porous, with plenty of air pockets that harbor soil microbes and soak up water like a sponge, slowly releasing it as plants need it.
The same properties that help compost retain water also promote root growth. In loose soil, plants can put down deeper roots over a wider area. This increases drought resistance and it also protects the ground against erosion.
Is there anything that compost doesn’t help with? Well, it probably won’t mow your lawn for you, or tend your garden. But other than that, it’s practically magic.