We have all heard of composting and how great the practice is for your plants and the environment.
The awareness of the dangers of modern fertilizers on the environment caused by inefficient use has made many people rethink the old, natural ways of maintaining nutrient-rich soils. This natural method is called composting; you’ve probably even used it in your garden.
What is Composting?
Composting is a process where organic matter known as compost is degraded and used as a natural fertilizer. The materials used to make compost are generally kitchen waste like food scraps, leaves, grass, twigs, and animal droppings.
The composting process can happen naturally when all of these ingredients are left to decompose in the soil.
But for proper and richer compost, most people prepare the compost themselves. This way, you get to pick what to use. You can bring together plant trimmings kept aside from your outdoor or indoor garden to make the bulk of your compost.
The Benefits of Composting in Your Garden
If you haven’t tried composting before, you may be wondering, what does it do for your garden? Let’s look at some of the benefits composting brings to your garden.
1. Makes the Soil Nutrient-Rich
Composting enriches the soil with vital nutrients needed for healthy plants. It’s a natural fertilizer with good levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, which are common chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers.
When compost breaks down, it retains much of the nutrients present in the plant matter and food scraps. That means a small serving packs enough nutrients to make synthetic fertilizers unnecessary.
The good thing is that you won’t have to worry about these chemicals being washed off into waterways.
2. Amends Soil Structure
Besides the usual nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, composting introduces vital micronutrients like manganese, copper, iron, and zinc to the soil.
These micronutrients are not present in synthetic fertilizers, yet they have an important contribution to plant growth.
Apart from micronutrients, compost can hold soil particles together, minimizing erosion in your garden and helping retain soil moisture. That advantage allows nutrients to remain in the soil much longer as it prevents leaching.
3. Provides Beneficial Microbes
The beautiful thing that sets compost apart from other soil amendments is that it harbors living creatures that are so beneficial to the ecosystem.
These microbes naturally thrive when organic matter breaks down, and when transferred into the soil, they perform various functions that don’t just enrich the soil but also protect it.
When microbes in compost mix with the soil, they continue to thrive, releasing a discharge that assists in soil aggregation by binding soil particles.
Other microorganisms like fungi flourishing in organic matter also help in soil aggregation, nutrient cycling, and other biotic interactions.
Fungi, in particular, are known to suppress root diseases by overcoming plant pathogens. They also aid in decomposition by breaking down organic matter and hard-to-digest man-made compounds. All of these beneficial microorganisms are present in compost in large volumes.
4. Adjusts Soil Texture
Soil texture can make certain places nearly impossible to grow anything. You probably don’t know what you can do to make the sandy or clay soil in your garden tillable.
That’s where composting comes in as a natural way to adjust the texture of your soil (there isn’t a better solution, really). It may take some time, but gradually you will find that the clay soil is becoming more airy and balanced and the sandy soil particles more closely packed.
The ability of compost to rebuild the soil is nothing short of phenomenal. If you didn’t know, it takes nature 1,800 years to build only six inches of topsoil, something that takes about six months with compost.
5. Retains Soil Carbon
We all understand the disastrous effects of carbon emissions on the environment. But did you know what you do in your garden can contribute to the global effort to reduce your carbon footprint?
Composting retains carbon in the soil in the form of organic matter, making it the perfect carbon sink. In fact, the amount of world carbon held in the soil as organic matter is about 1.5 trillion tons.
The benefits of composting for your garden are many. You get to enrich your soil in a way that beats other forms of soil amendment. But the practice also benefits the environment in general, which is a huge bonus.