Composted soil (otherwise known as humus) is one of the greatest gifts that we can give our gardens. Maintaining compost piles in our backyards can also make us more conscious about living in harmony with the natural world. Lawn clippings, leaves, and kitchen waste like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and spoiled produce will have a place to go where their nutrients can be returned to the earth for the benefit of the plants that live on it.
Many gardeners invest in fertilizers, and mulches like peat moss, to help nourish what they are trying to grow. Because the humus that results from composting is made of so many different kinds of broken-down materials, it provides a full and balanced diet for plants – complete with all the trace minerals that they require, and in proper proportions. Composted material can even remedy the pH balance in our garden soil, or promote the growth of plants in ground that would normally be too acidic or alkaline for them.
The growing life of our gardens also needs oxygen for their roots, and to help them assimilate the nutrients that are in the soil. Because humus is porous there is more space between its granules than is the case with average dirt. This allows for better aeration. Also, new budding plants have an easier time breaking through this kind of topsoil rather than a harder and more compact surface. Finally, the absorption that humus affords helps to curtail erosion. Topsoil is displaced by water when that water is not absorbed. In the case of composted gardens, moisture readily sinks into the soil without carrying it away.
Composts utilize so much of our kitchen and yard waste that would otherwise needlessly go into landfills. In return, they produce a rich and dark kind of soil so nourishing for our growing plants that it is often referred to as “gardener’s gold”. Composts are simple and easy to maintain; in fact, they require no more effort than what’s needed to take out the garbage. In return for this simple commitment on our parts, they teach us to live in harmony with the natural cycle of life so that we make use of what we no longer need and waste as little as possible.