Compost 101

Compost 101

 

Compost is decomposed organic material. This process is called composting which essentially recycles organic material. 

Take a moment to imagine how a general household would run. We have the mom paying the bills, your dad cooking and taking the trash out, your sister doing the laundry, your grandparents fixing the beds, the list could go on. All these chores are similar in function to this amazing and efficient system right beneath your feet. This system is called the Soil Food Web.

The Soil Food Web is a massive system that is made up of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and nutrients. The soil biome (and the organisms mentioned) assist in breaking down organic matter and in turn returning the nutrients to the plants growing in the system. These organisms not only strengthen the ecosystem, but they also provide protection from harmful pathogens and diseases.

 

Now lets understand how this applies in compost..

 

Benefits for your Garden

First, let’s think of compost as nutrient-dense food for your garden which helps improve soil structure and texture, maintain moisture levels, and retain essential nutrients and water. 

 

You are creating an optimal environment and fostering a community of organisms that break down organic matter and turn waste into nutrient-rich soil. As mentioned earlier the soil food web is made up of multiple types of organisms, think of your compost pile as sugar attracting ants. All these organisms are then easily attracted to the compost pile, if the conditions are right of course. They encourage the production of beneficial bacterias and fungi and help create a fertile environment for plants. These healthy bacterias in turn help fight off harmful diseases and potential threats.

 

Regarding your food: Due to intensive agricultural and soil depletion, the nutrients in our produce have decreased significantly. A great reason why you should grow your own food!

A study from the Kushi Institute found that “from 1975 to 1997 average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent.” 

You would have to eat 5 times the amount to receive the same nutrients and vitamins a person like your grandparents received.  

 

Reduced Need for Chemical Fertilizers 

With a healthy biome, soil can provide plants with all the nutrients they need, they are capable of fighting off disease and pathogens.

Pesticides and herbicides unbalance the soil food web. Depleting the soil depletes the soil food web, and nutrients are no longer made available to plants, and protection from diseases is compromised. 

 

Basics: How Do I Start?

The ingredients vary from home to home.

General “ingredients” include

  • Fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Egg shells
  • Grass from your lawn (the list goes on as long as it is organic)

Check out: https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/composting/ for an in depth on how to perfectly set up a compost pile

 

Have fun!!

 

Resources: 

https://www.livescience.com/63559-composting.html

https://bonnieplants.com/gardening/what-is-compost/

https://www.addisoncountyrecycles.org/food-scraps/composting/101/why-compost

https://www.soilfoodweb.com/how-it-works/#soil-food-web

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/ https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/composting/

 

 

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