We've all heard it, over and over again: "You need to make compost." "Compost is gold for the garden." "Compost is black gold!" All true, but they do little to explain the actual benefits of composting.
Composting is Good for the Garden
The most obvious benefit of composting is that compost is great for the garden. Whether added to seed-starting mixes, container plantings, garden beds, or lawns, compost does several important jobs:
- Microorganisms in compost help break down organic matter into plant-available nutrients, so plants grow stronger.
- When added to the soil, compost increases the amount of moisture the soil retains, so you have to water less.
- Compost can clean up and repair contaminated soil, including soils that have been destroyed by prior pesticide use.
- Compost can help prevent erosion.
- Compost improves soil structure. It helps sandy soil retain more moisture, and helps break up clay soils.
Composting is Good for the Planet
The other reason to compost is that it's just good for the planet in general. The fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, fallen leaves, and animal manures we compost are turned into something useful (compost) instead of being trucked off to the dump where they'll produce methane (the most damaging of the greenhouse gases), further harming the atmosphere as they decompose. There is no trucking away, no heavy machinery necessary to deal with the waste -- when we compost, the only tools we need are a strong shovel and (maybe) a strong back.
A healthy garden and a healthy planet -- two absolutely perfect reasons for composting!