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.

Discover the benefits of composting for your vegetable garden, and the advantages of composting at home. Composting yard waste and kitchen garbage is the best (and easiest) way to improve your garden. Here are four reasons you should be composting.

4 Reasons you should be composting

I started composting when 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.

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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 is today. But let me tell you, the best Bermuda grass in this old cow pasture grows in my garden. It swallowed up the rows and the plants and ...

The next year 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!

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 my chickens were confined to their run, and the tomatoes were good, but the weather wasn't. We realized that it's hard to mow around containers.

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

That's when I got serious about gardening.

Because doing something over and over again and expecting a different result 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 garden fence. I filled the beds with soil and lots of homemade compost. I watered and nurtured and experimented and learned and harvested and ... things began to improve!

My garden isn't perfect 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 bed garden, and I designed the space so we can use the lawnmower between the beds.

One of the biggest secrets of my eventual 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 couldn't stick a shovel in - and that didn't hold water - my raised beds have great soil that's easy to dig, 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.

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

1. 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 huge difference in your garden.

Composting yard waste and kitchen garbage will super-charge your garden.

Micro-organisms - beneficial bacteria, protozoa, fungi - along with insects and invertebrates go to work on the organic matter, decomposing it and turning it into 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 are able to infiltrate the soil and keep it well aerated. 

Compost brings diverse life to the soil and 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.

2. Composting can save you money

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.

3. Compost benefits 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!

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.

4. Composting is good for your health

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!

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) - activities that yield materials for your compost pile - will eat up those calories in no time. 

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.

Do you have enough compost materials?

If you think you don't have enough materials to build a successful compost pile - or maybe you have plenty of greens but few browns (or vice versa) - you can find some tips and ideas on finding free compost materials in this post.

Learn more about successful composting

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.

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



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