Composting is one of the least expensive and most responsible things you can do for your garden. Simply by diverting some organic matter from your kitchen and yard to your compost pile, you can come up with a rich, fertile additive you can use to improve your soil and keep your plants healthy.
Composting allows you to recycle yard and kitchen waste. Coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, egg shells, grass clippings, cardboard and many other materials can be composted, reducing your waste output greatly. With large yard projects, composting can actually be a time-saver, since you won't have to haul your yard waste out to the curb.
Compost can be used to enrich your garden soil in ways fertilizer can't. In addition to the primary nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, compost has macronutrients and micronutrients which many synthetic fertilizers do not include. These nutrients are important for healthy plant growth.
Using compost can also help your soil retain and distribute nutrients more efficiently. While synthetic fertilizer distributes nutrients in a quick burst, compost slowly releases its nutrients over months or even years, ensuring a continuous supply of plant nourishment. It can also help neutralize acidic and alkaline soils, allowing plants to access the minerals more easily.
Soil with compost also retains fertilizer better, which decreases runoff. This means you will have to fertilize less frequently and that your gardening will do less damage to the environment.
Compost can improve soil structure for a variety of soil types. In sandy soils, compost raises retention, allowing the soil to store moisture and nutrients. In clay and silt soils, compost loosens the bonds that hold the particles together, allowing water to drain through the soil and plant roots to grow more easily.