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Compost has become a hot word in the gardening world, and for a good reason. The benefits of compost make the effort it takes to create some really worth it.
I can’t remember where I first heard about compost. If I had known about the composting advantages earlier on, I would definitely have implemented it the year I started gardening.
Most likely I heard about it in one of the many gardening books that I have read, but it immediately intrigued me.
I was completely familiar with adding manure and moss as garden amendments, but compost was not something I knew anything about.
We brought excess lawn to the dump, or burnt it (depending on where we lived).
Our garden scraps got dumped into the bush for the birds, or any other animal that was willing to eat it. We didn’t even dump it back into our garden.
When we went to clean out our garden in the fall, everything got loaded into wagons and brought into the bush.
The idea that we were actually taking away from the health of our soil was completely foreign to me. This was just the way we had always done it, and so we did.
Thankfully, people write and create books as teaching tools for the rest of us.
The benefits of compost are the increased amount of nutrients in your produce, the health of your plants, and how it improves the health of your soil. It also creates less waste in your household as it goes back into your soil.
In 2017, my hard-working husband built me a tumbling composter, maybe because I couldn’t stop talking about it. Using a steel drum, and some rollers, it opened on the side and was easy to turn.
It looks similar to this one you can get on Amazon.
We started putting in all of our scrap browns and greens. Meat and bones should never go into compost, but coffee grinds and brown paper can.
There are many other things that can go into a compost bin, and I put in as much as I could. It didn’t take long before it was full, and with time crumbled into black dirt.
Our first batch of compost went into our garden where the next years corn was planted.
In that area, the corn stood a good 6 inches higher than the rest of the row.
I noticed it, but did not take much thought. Gardens are usually not perfectly symmetrical, so no big deal.
The next year, we spread out our very minimal amount of compost over a section of my strawberry plants.
Never enough when you start spreading it into a big garden, the compost looked like it would not even affect the health of the soil.
Until two months later.
As I was picking my bumper crop of strawberries, I noticed, week after week, that the strawberries on the plants which had gotten the compost was producing 3X the number of strawberries than the other plants.
This was so noticeable that I started thinking and realized that the compost was the only thing that we had done differently.
This drove me on a quest for compost! The more the better.
As I have been learning more about it, I have discovered that compost is really not dirt.
Rather it’s organic matter, or humus, the really beneficial part of the soil that plants thrive in.
The Amazing Benefits of Composting Include:
Vigorous and Healthy Plants
Because of something called humic acid, plants planted in compost tend to be healthier, more vigorous in growth, and have better resilience against pests.
Pesky insects go for weak plants.
Plants that are strong will have less problems with insects then weak and unhealthy plants.
For this reason alone it is important to consider the condition of the soil our plants are grown in.
Remember, you want beneficial insects, and there are a lot of them once you started learning about them.
Have you heard of Brix meters (or refractometers)? These are a standard tool for many agronomists in the fruit and citrus industries. They are used to measure the dissolved solids and sugars liquid in the produce, according to the “Brix” scale.
What some have discovered is that the score on the Brix scale is directly related to the taste and nutritional value of your food! Try adding compost to increase the score.
This Refractometer is really affordable on Amazon.
The taste will be better, and healthier for you.
All that wasted lettuce, carrot tops, coffee grind, and potato skins can all go into your compost.
Throwing these in the garbage is a shame. They can be turned back into organic matter and can help keep our soils healthy.
Improves the soil
Compost is very important in feeding the microbiology in the soil. These are the amazing bacteria that actually help your food to grow and in turn, helps your gut health.
Increases the water holding capacity of your soils
Erosion is a big problem that conventional farms have, and to change that we need to change the water capacity of soils.
Compost is the organic matter that can help with the water-holding capacity of the soil.
Regenerative Agriculture in general is a great way to increase the water-holding capacity of soil on your farm.
Free Organic Fertilizer
Its free! All you need to do is stop throwing your kitchen scraps into the garbage and instead start throwing them into a designated tub.
Amazing in its ability to help plants grow, it’s an underutilized fertilizer that more people should know about.
Another amazing benefit of composting is the tea that you can make from it.
No, not a tea for you, but rather for your plants.
Using a muslin fabric, make a tea bag with some well-composted compost, put it into a large bin of rainwater, and you are making your own liquid fertilizer.
Composting is sort of addicting. Knowing when to add compost to your garden is also helpful.
There are several things to take into consideration, such as the accessibility of your compost bin to wild animals but also to your location.
There are also different types of composting bins, and to find the right one for you takes some research.
If you have no money and want to start today, I would recommend starting with a large Rubbermaid tub. Drill some holes in the sides for air circulation, and start collecting your scraps.
There are some things you don’t want to add to your compost bin.
Do not add corn cobs (as these take too long to break down), meat, bones, and oils.
I try not to add anything the dog might want to get into, as then you might have wildlife on your back deck pretty soon.
Have you been able to experience the benefits of compost in your own garden?
There are many different ways of composting, including red wiggler worms, bokashi composting, and the dig and drop method.
Each have their own benefits, but they all produce amazing organic soil matter that benefits our plants, and the food we eat.