Why Compost?

Early spring is a great time to set a composting system and most gardeners I know are interested in trying their hand at composting. I'm a fair weather composter and a novice to boot but here are some things I've learned over the past couple years of study and pursuit.

When I first began gardening, I used peat moss like it was lip gloss. It was my go-to-product. When all else failed, add peat moss. Peat moss is an amazing substance, harvested from bogs. The thing is that even though these bogs are plentiful, peat moss takes hundreds of years to form and actually only add 1 yard of depth every 1000 years. Once these bogs are harvested the eco structure of these places is changed forever and because of the crazy long time frame, we don't really know the effects of harvesting this product over the long term. Then when one considers the fuels required to dig, transport, vacuum and bale it...well, the appeal of homemade compost went up a notch or two. I still have a huge vacuum sealed bag of peat moss in my backyard and I'm riddled with guilt about it. For real.

Compost is my new go-to-product and I believe it should be everyone's. There are obvious advantages to composting on a community level: waste management, pollution management, financial savings as well as bioremediation. What the heck is bioremediation you are probably asking? Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms (ie.compost) to return an environment that has been altered by contaminates back to it's original glory. I think we all know areas in our communities that would benefit from this practice. On a more personal level composting at home allows us to recycle our own waste on site, improve the soil quality in our yards, provide us more opportunities to be self sufficient and ultimately produce healthy and productive gardens.

A little goes a long way. Soil that has as little as 5% compost is usually quite fertile. By adding compost to your soil you increase the organic content. This improves its texture, drainage, and nutrients. It strengthens the food web of your soil, by providing moisture, minerals and a home for beneficial forms of life. It will also enhance your plants' ability to resist disease and extremes in weather. Seriously, the benefits are worth it!

Composting is a great family activity. I'm always sending Kia to the composter with a bin of goodies to dump. Mind you we have three; our black bin, our outdoor heap and the county's green bin. It takes some clear communication to ensure she takes the proper stuff to the correct pile. Early spring is a great time to get her involved with aerating the compost, less spider webs along the lid make her braver in the spring. Come summer, it's all me, she sees the spider webs and runs for the hills. I bring up spiders because you want living things to abound within your compost bins and heaps. Worms especially and most kids have a fascination with all things wiggly and can be a great help in gathering some worms to be added to your bin.

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