By Victoria Fuller
It may seem an unusual time of year to think about adding to our compost piles (especially for those of us in the Great White North!), but why miss out on all of the glorious benefits of adding compost to your garden in the coming seasons just because of a little frost or snow?
In today’s post we are going to dig in (pun absolutely intended) to some of the reasons and benefits that make composting an essential part of your gardening journey year-round, not just during the “gardening months”.
Many of us tend to just load up our kitchen "organic waste" bins during the cooler months and don't reap any of the nutritional benefits of our food waste! Why not build for the future and store that compost to add to your compost heap or pile in the Spring time? So without further ado let’s get elbow-deep in some facts about composting!
Composting is defined as “the process of decomposing organic materials such as yard waste and food scraps in a controlled environment”. What this loosely means is that the nutritional benefits of these scraps will contribute to your lawn and garden instead of ending up rotting in a landfill, win-win! This also means that the more we contribute to our own compost piles the less land is required for landfills, which is truly a perk for everybody (especially Mother Earth!). It is also worth noting that compost is a by-product of your day to day life, so it’s a great way to reap some additional botanical benefits at no additional expense!
SOIL & PLANT BENEFITS
Adding compost to your soil is one of the simplest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to improve the quality of your soil! Compost helps reduce the need for harmful chemical fertilizers and also helps to fill in some of the gaps where your soil may be lacking other essential nutrients.
Using chemical fertilizers in your garden can not only have negative impacts on your garden itself, but also on the environment as a whole. There are a lot of “out of sight and out of mind” behind the scenes aspects to chemical fertilizers such as their need to be manufactured, shipped, and applied to your garden which costs time, effort, money, and emissions all at the cost of you, the consumer! You would be better off in every way simply adding your coffee grounds and eggshells (which chances are you already have!) to your composting materials and cutting out the detrimental middle man that is chemical fertilizer.
Adding compost to your soil also helps prevent a “crust” from forming which in turn means that moisture can more easily penetrate the soil and help your roots!
There are three nutrients that plants need to thrive, and compost has all three: Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous! These nutrients help to promote new (and healthy) growth in your plants as well as providing them with a stronger immune system against common diseases.
Between the insulation of a Cedar Planters Western Red Cedar raised garden bed and the nutrients included in your compost your plants will be set up for the best chance of success! Plus, a Cedar raised garden bed is a beautiful addition to your outdoor space, just saying!
Using compost in your garden instead of chemical fertilizers has plenty of obvious environmental benefits, but we often overlook the reduction in greenhouse gases and waste! When organic matter decomposes in a landfill-like setting, the lack of oxygen able to access the waste causes substantial amounts of Methane gas (a harmful greenhouse gas that has been proven to decrease air quality and cause health issues in animals and crops alike!).
Reducing these greenhouse gases is a step in the right direction to start healing our planet!
STORING YOUR COMPOST
When it comes to hanging onto your compost until it’s time to add it to your outdoor compost pile, storage can seem like a bit of a concern, but it doesn’t have to be! Airtight containers of all shapes and sizes are the best way to go, be it old plastic tubs (such as butter or margarine containers), glass jars, Ziploc containers, anything you can imagine really so long as there is no way for air to get inside and thus encourage unpleasant smells! (This is even more essential if you are planning on keeping your food scraps indoors for a few months, such as scraps from your Super Bowl Feast if you're watching from up North, before adding them to your outdoor compost pile!).
It is also worth noting that if storing your scraps and compost isn’t really your style then you can absolutely keep adding to your compost pile even in the chill of Winter! The decomposition will slow down during colder temperatures but there is no harm to doing this (especially if you live in the Southern States where you don’t get too many sub-zero days!).
Remember to turn the pile of compost regularly to aid the process and speed things up! Plus this helps balance out the nutrients within the pile and stops pests from setting up home within your pile!
All in all we would highly recommend composting year-round, not just in the Summer months, after all there is plenty of organic matter and food scraps to go around no matter the season! We hope that this blog post has inspired you to either embark on or continue your composting journey. Please let us know about your experiences with composting over the Winter months, as always we love to hear from you!