4 Reasons Why You Should be Composting

Good for you, good for your wallet, good for the environment - 4 reasons why you should be composting your kitchen garbage and yard waste.

Have you tried composting yet?

Several years ago I got serious about gardening. I had tried just about every way there is to garden in this old clay ground that used to be a cow pasture, with a wide variety of great failures. 

I tried a couple of raised beds in the backyard, but they were too far from the water hose, out of my normal sight path (so I forgot to water), and well, it was a spectacular flop.

Then I tried planting in the ground in traditional rows in a different location, which is where the garden still is today. But let me tell you, the best Bermuda grass in this old cow pasture grows in my garden. Ugh. It swallowed up the rows and the plants and ... 

I tried it again with the same results. Funny, huh?

Turn your yard waste and kitchen garbage into nutrient-enriched super soil. Here are 4 reasons you should be composting!
For years I fought this invasive Bermuda grass.

Next I resorted to container gardening in the front yard. I had a great crop of tomatoes that year, which my free range chickens ate.

The next year the chickens were confined to their run, and the tomatoes were good, but the weather wasn't. Mowing the lawn around the containers wasn't the Chief's favorite pastime and our front yard looked pretty ragged. (See the image below for proof!)

Turn your yard waste and kitchen garbage into nutrient-enriched super soil. Here are 4 reasons you should be composting!
Container gardening was more successful, but mowing around the containers was difficult.

Another year of traditional in-the-ground gardening followed, with the same challenges as before.

That's when I got serious.

Because doing something over and over again and expecting different results is, as they say, insanity. I resolved to make some serious changes and make things happen.

And I did. I doubled the size of that little garden with the invasive Bermuda grass and built raised beds inside the fence. I filled the beds with soil and lots of homemade compost. I watered and nurtured and experimented and learned and harvested and ... things improved!

My garden isn't perfect or finished yet but I succeed way more than I used to. I'm still battling the Bermuda grass but it's so much easier to keep on top of it in my raised garden, and I designed the space so we can use the lawnmower between the beds.

One of the secrets to my success was learning to compost. Remember that awful clay soil? I've made great changes by adding a lot of compost to the raised beds. What a difference it's made.

Instead of hard-packed dirt that I can't dig in, and that doesn't hold water, my raised beds have great soil that's easy to dig in, easy to water, and really easy to weed. And my vegetable plants are so much better: bigger, healthier, and more productive.

If you're ready to make great changes in your garden and in your life, maybe it's time for you to start composting too.

If you're not convinced yet, I have four reasons why you should be composting your yard debris and kitchen waste instead of tossing it in the garbage can or down the garbage disposal (if you have one).

And at the bottom of this post I'll tell you how to learn more about composting and how to get started.

Composting is good for your garden

I've already mentioned that composting has made a huge difference in my own gardening efforts.

A compost pile will turn organic matter from your yard and your kitchen into "humus" - rich, dark, crumbly super-soil. Combine yard debris such as grass clippings, leaves, and garden weeds with kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peels, cores, and even leftovers from dinner, and you'll be ready to make a big difference in your garden.

Composting yard waste and kitchen garbage will super-charge your garden.
Add layers of organic material to the compost pile.

Micro-organisms - beneficial bacteria, protozoa, fungi - along with insects and invertebrates go to work on the organic matter, decomposing it and turning it into that gorgeous compost.

Mixing that nutrient-rich humus (finished compost) with your garden soil makes those essential nutrients and valuable organisms available to your garden plants. These nutrients are vital for plant growth and can replace chemical fertilizers and even pesticides, because healthy plants are better able to withstand garden pests and diseases.

Compost changes the soil's texture. Healthy soil contains air, moisture and nutrients; adding compost to the soil will encourage this healthy structure. Worms, insects and bacteria infiltrate the soil and keep it well aerated. Compost brings diverse life to the soil and then feeds those life forms.

Sandy soil can better hold water and nutrients; clay soil is loosened so that plant roots can grow, spread, and become established, and water can drain properly. Nutrients are less likely to wash out of the soil, and soil is less likely to erode. Believe it or not, increasing the organic matter in the soil by just 5% will quadruple the soil's capacity to hold water.

Compost also neutralizes soil, whether it's acidic or alkaline, and brings pH levels closer to normal.

Composting is good for your wallet

Many communities are served by waste removal companies that charge extra for a "green bin" to hold yard waste. While you might not be able to compost 100% of your yard waste - branches and other large items will not compost readily or rapidly unless you have a wood chipper - you can definitely cut down on the amount of waste you'd otherwise send to the landfill, which can save you money.

Since plants growing in healthy, nutrient-rich soil won't need chemical fertilizers or pesticides, you'll save money.

And because soil that's enriched with compost can hold more water, you might not have to water as often, which will save you money.

Composting is good for the environment

Composting reduces the amount of waste in our landfills.

It's estimated that yard waste makes up 13% of the total waste added to our landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that another 20% of landfill contents is food waste - over 35 million tons in 2012.

Turn your yard waste and kitchen garbage into nutrient-enriched super soil. Here are 4 reasons you should be composting!
Kitchen garbage fuels a compost pile

Composting also reduces the methane gas emissions produced by landfills. When organic waste is buried in a landfill it decays in an anaerobic method - without air - which produces methane gas, one of the most harmful and potent "greenhouse gases." 

On the other hand, a compost pile uses aerobic decomposition, a process of decay in the presence of air.

Composting is good for you

While you can take a hands-off approach to your compost pile, letting it decay naturally over the course of several years, you can hasten the process and have beneficial humus in just a couple of months, depending on your climate and the amount of work you are willing to invest.

Gardening and composting are great exercise and are good for your health. Not only are you getting fresh air and exercise, you will also reap the benefit of healthy, organic fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Gardening is a great form of moderate exercise. As with all exercise, you need to be active for at least 30 minutes to benefit from any activity. Gardening uses all the major muscle groups, increases flexibility and strengthens joints. 

Turn your yard waste and kitchen garbage into nutrient-enriched super soil. Here are 4 reasons you should be composting!
Barnyard manure for the compost pile - that was a workout!

Composting is a heart-healthy form of exercise too. Using a shovel or pitchfork to turn the compost pile weekly is a great way to get your heart rate up.

WebMD estimates that heavy yard work such as landscaping and hauling dirt will burn 400-600 calories per hour. I think turning a compost pile is right up there too. Pulling weeds (200-400 calories), raking leaves (350-450 calories), and mowing the lawn (250-350 calories) - which yield materials for your compost pile - will add up fast.

Gardening has also been proven to improve overall fitness, reduce stress and fight high blood pressure.

Dirt vs. Depression

Studies show that dirt contains a natural antidepressant called mycobacterium vaccae. This form of bacteria seems to stimulate the production of serotonin, which makes you feel relaxed and happy. The lack of serotonin is linked to depression and anxiety.

Gardeners and composters are more likely than other people to come into contact with this soil bacteria by breathing it in and through handling soil - playing in the dirt is good for us! It's no wonder many gardeners say that their garden is their happy place.

The Down-to-Earth Guide to Composting, an ebook written for people without a science degree.

Are you ready to learn more about composting and get started on a program of your own? Find out how in my new ebook The Down-to-Earth Guide to Composting.

I'll show you in plain, simple terms how to start your compost pile, demystify that "magic ratio" of greens to browns that everyone talks about, help you troubleshoot your compost pile if needed, and give you a crazy-long list of what you can and what you shouldn't compost.

You'll find more information here.

The Down-to-Earth Guide to Composting - how to compost in plain and simple terms.

For more self-sufficient posts like this, subscribe to my weekly-ish newsletter "The Acorn", and join me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I'd love to see you there!

Give your garden a super-boost that won't cost a penny. How composting can save your health AND the environment.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My mission is to inspire and encourage you to live a simple, joyful life,
no matter your circumstances or where you live. Join me here:
Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Subscribe


Powell River Books said...

Last year I lost access to the shore from my float cabin, so I lost access to the place I had my compost pile. I didn't want to miss out so I've started composting in a barrel on the cabin deck. I chop kitchen scraps and plant cuttings small and layer it with soil and compost accelerator. It's not as quick but it saves me from hauling all the compostable items to town to throw out. - Margy

Jen said...

This year might be the year for me to try composting - so I'm bookmarking this page! Our town is offering discount bins for the first time ever and I'm tempted to sign up... (although I just found out this week that with covid they have just pushed out the date to July...)

Kathi said...

Do it, Jen. It's never too late to start something new.

Kathi said...

I;m sorry to hear that, Margy. Good for you for adapting.

Ann @ Live The Old Way said...

I so feel you on the soil. We joke that we are 1 part dirt and 6 parts rock, it's terrible! We have had to adjust how we garden also and compost is a definite must! Thanks for sharing this with us at the Homestead Blog Hop!