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Composting / Gardening 101

Composting Facts: 10 Benefits of Composting You May Not Know

Ah, composting! The squishy, smelly, and oh-so-satisfying practice of turning food scraps into black gold. We’ve all heard this word thrown around time and again. So, it’s only fair that I shine light on the 10 benefits of composting, the advantages and disadvantages of composting, and some intriguing composting facts to make you better understand the importance of this practice-cum-art. 

organic waste in compost bin. benefits of composting.
10 benefits of composting

10 Benefits of Composting for You and the Environment

When I first began composting, I asked myself a few questions. Like what are its benefits, and is it really worth it? 

The answer is a resounding YES!

Composting comes with a host of benefits, whether it’s for you or the environment. Here are the top 10 benefits of composting that will make you want to start right away.

1. Composting Increases the Number of Valuable Microorganisms in the Soil

The compost you add to your ground is teeming with microorganisms, like good fungi and bacteria. 

These valuable organisms decompose organic matter, suppress pathogens, and aerate the soil. The outcome is improved soil quality and a better, greener garden.

2. Composting Improves Crop Yield 

Well-rotted compost contains substantial levels of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. These substances are vital in providing the much-needed nutrients required for plants to thrive, as well as promoting crop health and crop yield. 

Check out my Compositing 101 article to learn all about the ins and outs of making the best compost. 

3. Composting Creates More Neutral Soil

A good neutral soil mixed with compost makes for happy plants and happy gardens. 

If your home is in an area with naturally basic or acidic soil, adding some compost can help normalize its pH levels back to a range that supports plant growth. 

4. Composting Helps Keep Pests Away

Some bacteria found in compost can keep pests and other insects at bay with their insecticide-like properties. Compost also helps plants grow healthier and stronger, so they will naturally become more pest and disease resistant. 

This means less frustration for you seeing all your favorite blooms being eaten by pests, and less dependency on those toxic pesticides to fight them off. 

5. Composting is Cost-Effective 

Composting saves money that would otherwise have been spent on purchasing inorganic fertilizers and disposing of trash. 

Instead, you can channel this saved sum for your garden’s betterment, such as buying higher-quality seeds or maybe some new gardening tools!

6. Composting Helps Reduce Landfill Waste

Did you know we can reduce almost a third of landfill waste by composting? 

Sure, some foods belong in the trash, but composting organic scraps and yard waste can significantly reduce the amount of garbage your house produces each week. 

Isn’t it better to get this waste back into the soil instead of loading it in plastic bags that can take as long as 20 years to decompose?

7. Composting Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Before we begin, a quick science lesson… 

“Greenhouse gases can damage the Ozone (earth’s protective covering) and hence, are harmful to the environment.”

Landfills are currently one of the most significant contributors of greenhouse gases. And as mentioned above, composting can cut down on garbage production and, therefore, greenhouse gas emissions. 

8. Composting Reduces Wasteful Water Runoff

Adding compost to the soil also boosts its water retention. 

This is because compost acts as a sponge and soaks up water that would otherwise run downstream, eroding plants and land along the way.

9. Composting Contributes Towards Healthier Oceans

When water falls to the ground, it flows into streams, lakes, and rivers before finally running off into the ocean. 

Water can pick up all sorts of materials during this journey, transporting them to the ocean and damaging its content. But, adding spongy compost can absorb the water and filter out any picked-up materials, resulting in cleaner water into the ocean and a healthier ecosystem. 

10. Composting is Fun!

Last but not least, composting is super fun! Who does not like getting outside and setting up fascinating systems to convert their waste into something useful? 

It keeps you aware of the never-ending loop between waste and creation, also you learn to appreciate nature at work. 

Spade full of nutrient-rich compost, one of the 10 benefits of composting for your vegetable garden

5 Interesting Composting Facts You Might Not Have Known 

Composting may appear boring to some, but you may be surprised by some of these not-so-well-known composting facts. 

So, whether you are already a pro at this practice or just looking for a little composting inspiration, these 5 composting facts may make you a composting convert yet!

1. Who Says Composting is Just for Humans? 

Did you know that compost can also help with the birth of certain birds? 

A few bird species (read: Australian Brush-Turkey) make their own compost pile to incubate their eggs. They collect decaying material and build a mound. 

This compost nest is capable of producing 20 times more heat than the mother bird, allowing the bird to incubate many more eggs than it could sit on. 

These piles can weigh nearly 7000 kilograms and be up to 12.7 cubic meters! 

2. Compost Piles Can Catch Fire

Spoiler alert: your compost piles are not as safe as they may seem. 

If they become too hot and too dry, occassionally they can spontaneously combust! Fortunately, this only occurs rarely in very extreme conditions, but regardless, it is a fact worth remembering. 

3. It Gets Really Hot in There

You’d be surprised to know how much heat your backyard compost heap can produce. During the hottest stage of composting, these piles can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This is really hot! Hot enough to kill weed seeds, destroy pathogens, as well as being above your heater’s recommended setting!

4. Human Remains are Compostable

Your body does not have to be buried or cremated. It’s also possible to turn the body’s remains into usable compost in just 30 days. Not to mention the metric turn of carbon emissions this process can save!

5. Why not Swap Worms With Cockroaches? 

Did you know that composting with cockroaches is a thing? 

Apparently, cockroaches are hungry, clean, and can produce compost without a smell. These varmints can feed on catfish skulls, chicken bones, crustacean shells, and most of the too-hard-to-eat kitchen scraps, converting them into an amazingly rich and dense compost.

One of the benefits of composting is a thriving garden

The Art of Composting

Some Advantages and Disadvantages of Composting Methods

Composting refers to converting organic material (typically food scraps and yard waste) into valuable fertilizer to promote soil health. It’s an environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical fertilizers for the garden. 

The composting process provides an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other beneficial microbes responsible for the decomposition process, allowing them to slowly break down organic matter and produce nutrient-rich soil. 

This process can be done through quite a number of methods, but each one has its advantages and disadvantages of composting. 

Here’s a glance at the advantages and disadvantages of different composting methods to help you choose the one that will best suit your needs. 

advantages and disadvantages of composting. Lady adding organic waste to compost bin.

Aerobic Composting 

If not inferred by the name already, aerobic composting is the type of composting where air is required to break down organic matter. 

Aerobic composting needs careful monitoring and frequent tossing to keep aerobic bacteria happy and working to break down organic waste. 

Factors like choosing the right composter and determining its ideal location play a crucial role in this composting method and can make all the difference to the quality of your compost. 

If conditions are ideal, aerobic composting can be super fast. Ultimately it can provide you with finished compost in just a month or two.  

Anaerobic Composting 

The opposite of the former, anaerobic composting occurs in the absence of oxygen and typically requires a little less physical effort.

Anaerobic methods of composting like Bokashi Composting do require regular maintenance to prevent them from smelling. After each addition of food scraps, it is important to sprinkle over a tablespoon of bokashi bran

In addition, it’s important to drain Bokashi tea once every 2-3 days to minimize odors.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting, aka worm farming, is a composting method that steers away from the traditional composting route. 

This is an aerobic method of composting that uses worms, moisture, and oxygen to decompose organic material. While bacteria lend a helping hand, worms do most of the heavy lifting to brew a rich, nutrient-dense compost. 

The primary advantages of worm farming are that it doesn’t require much effort (you don’t need to “turn” it regularly) and in addition it’s eco-friendly. 

On the flip side, worm farming is more vulnerable to pathogen build-up. This is because of the reduced heat production compared to “normal” composting methods. And since you’ll have to invest in worms and bins, there is also an initial price tag involved. 

bokashi bran being sprinkled on full bokashi bin. One of the advantages and disadvantages of composting

Bokashi

Bokashi composting is another unconventional method of composting that is actually a fermentation system. This method works much faster, taking only 4-6 weeks.

It works anaerobically (without oxygen), and since this is a fermentation process, you can put more waste in your bokashi bin than you would in a traditional composting bin. 

In addition to the fruit and veggie scraps, you can add meat, eggshells, bones, and dairy to your bokashi system. Learn what can be added to a bokashi bin with this full list of dos and don’ts

Ready to start your bokashi journey? Check out my comprehensive best bokashi bin review to find the best-suited bin for your needs. 

Final Words on the 10 Benefits of Composting

Having learned about the top 10 benefits of composting, the advantages and disadvantages of composting, as well as some amusing composting facts, I hope you’re now feeling encouraged and ready to begin your composting journey. 

I look forward to hearing about how you get on. Feel free to comment before or on my Facebook page to keep me updated! 

Happy composting, fellow potagers! 

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About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.