What are the benefits of composting?
There are so many good reasons to compost waste and you and your garden will certainly reap the benefits.
The most obvious one is the end product - lovely rich, brown, earthy compost which when used in the garden puts loads of nutrients and goodness back into the soil.
There's also the impact on the planet. We’re in the middle of a climate emergency and all the talk is of greenhouse gas emissions and our use of oil. Garden waste is heavy and councils use large vehicles to transport it, creating a lot of emissions. More are produced when the waste is handled and sorted and then again when the final compost product is delivered. All of this is reduced by keeping the waste in your garden.
Composting also works wonders for the animals in your garden.
Once your compost heap is up and running all manner of creatures magically find their way in and make it home. They all play their part in breaking down the contents and a rummage through your heap can be fascinating.
Get the kids involved, it can teach them a lot about what goes on in your garden and they can also go bug spotting. Why not have a compost safari?
So your heap is a habitat in its own right, which is really important as we face the loss in this country of 1 in 7 of our species, but you’ll also transfer some of those animals into your garden as you use your compost.
This can be of direct benefit as you’ll boost the local worm population and they’ll work wonders for your soil, you may also increase the numbers of predators that will eat common garden pests, but you will also provide a food source for other animals such as birds and hedgehogs.
Starting a compost heap really is one of the best things you can do in your garden
What can you do with your compost?
Compost from your heap or bin has so many uses. It can be added to your soil as a surface mulch which helps retain moisture and slowly adds nutrients. You can also dig it in to your soil as a conditioner. Really mature, fine and crumbly compost can be used for potting or for sowing seeds.
Compost that still has some larger lumps in it and the overall texture isn’t yet fine and crumbly, can be used as either a mulch in flower or veg beds or mixed into your soil.
If you’re prepared to wait a little longer and let the worms really go to town then you’ll get what gardeners refer to as black gold, the finer textured crumbly compost similar to what you might buy from a garden centre.
You can still use this as a mulch but now it will also work really well in pots or containers and you can use it for growing seeds (mix in a little sand, soil, fine grit, leaf mould or vermiculite to get the texture you want).