Recycling – Why Is Composting So Good?
Why Is Composting So Good?
Waste becomes wealth — everyone should recycle, and gardeners can recycle more than most. Anything that was once plant or animal matter can be composted and returned to thethat originally nourished it, providing nutrition for new generations of both plants and animals.
Why Should You Compost?
There was a time when all gardeners composted, when waste had to be recycled because there was nothing else you could do with it. If you kept chickens or pigs vegetable scraps and garden waste were fed to the animals, their muck was then put in a heap, left to rot and spread on the garden to feed the plants. If you didn’t keep animals anything that would rot was put in a pile and later distributed over the garden; other materials were burnt and the resulting ash was then put on the garden. Gardeners provided all the nutrition their garden needed from the home and garden. They didn’t call themselves organic gardeners, they naturally looked after the soil and the planet, using available resources wisely.
Nowadays we don’t have to recycle, we can choose to have our waste taken away to landfill sites. We don’t have to think about the amount of waste we produce because we don’t have to deal with it ourselves. Around 60 per cent of domestic waste is, and much of the other 40 per cent is packaging.
When youyou not only reduce your waste output, lessening the problem of using tracts of land for waste disposal, at the same time you reduce the need to bring materials in from outside to enrich your garden. You won’t need extra fertilisers or composts if you can make your own. One of the principles of organic gardening is to be as self-sufficient as possible in the materials you need, avoiding the use of energy on transport and processing. When you compost you fulfil this principle.
Maintaining a healthy soil is the cornerstone of organic gardening. Get this right and everything else will follow. The way to do this is to keep feeding your soil by adding organic matter, and garden compost is the best material of all. When you recycle organic matter into your soil you are returning plants and tiny living creatures that once came from it, in the form of minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and sugars. These provide the nutrients plants and animals need to grow, then they in turn die, decay, and provide more food for future generations. So you are helping to maintain the cycle of fertility.
Whenever a plant or animal dies and falls to the ground it will eventually rot down and ultimately return to the soil. Leaves and twigs for example fall, rot and feed the tree above with nutrients that once came from the tree. So why don’t we just leave vegetation to compost itself?
For one thing, few gardeners would like to have rotting bits of vegetation all round the place. More important is that organic matter is rotted by the action of tiny organisms, and if they come across a chunk of unrotted material in or on the soil they take nutrients from the soil to help them decompose it. So every time they have to get to work to rot something down into a form where it can be reintegrated into the soil, they are temporarily robbing the soil of elements that it needs to feed plants.
When the processes are confined to a compost heap they are altogether more efficient. Composting also mixes different materials so you end up with a wide spread of balanced elements, rather than concentration of a few, and the composted plant foods are stored and released slowly into the soil when they are needed.
The only mystery about composting is why everybody doesn’t do it. Whatever your situation, if you want to improve your garden’s health while saving energy and money, the raw materials for compost are everywhere around you, for free.