Benefit: Facts on Healthy Soil, Hearty Communities
High quality compost products add organic material and nutrients to soil. The list of benefits – nearly endless – includes:
Soil Health – Successful gardens depend on the health of the soil. Compost, designed by Mother Nature herself, enhances soil health naturally by improving its structure and increasing its nutrient content. Unlike chemical fertilizers that only include the basic elements required for plant growth, compost contains micronutrients and organic matter vital to the long-term health of the soil system. Soils amended with compost demonstrate a robust structure with increased water holding capacity, increased oxygen flow to the roots, improved drainage and buffered pH changes. Building up the strength of the root zone environment consequently reduces wind and water erosion.1
Healthy Soil, Healthy Food – Food grown in soil amended with compost tends to have a higher nutritional content than food grown with chemical fertilizers. As documented in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, cabbage grown with compost had a higher ratio of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to nitrate than cabbage grown with chemical fertilizer. A higher ratio leads to better absorption of Vitamin C. Additionally, tomatoes grown with compost smelled and tasted better than tomatoes grown in potting soil or without fertilizer.2 In short, compost not only makes your garden healthier, it can make you healthier!
Reducing Energy Demands Associated with Irrigation – Many people recognize that compost contributes to healthier soils and healthier plants, but compost has other lesser-known benefits. For example, applying compost to soil can reduce energy demands associated with irrigation. Compost helps roots grow long and strong. Because compost increases the infiltration and storage capacity of root systems, compost-treated soil requires less irrigation. Given that California farmers consume 8% of all electricity generated in the state running water supply infrastructure to fields, they could significantly reduce water consumption – and energy consumption – by applying compost.3
Exploring Alternatives for Petro-Chemical Fertilizers – Using compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers cause a number of environmental problems including increasing soil acidity, leaching, and polluting groundwater. The overabundance of nitrogen in chemical fertilizers is especially dangerous—eutrophication, the presence of excess nitrogen in bodies of water, reduces water quality and prevents the oxygen levels necessary for fish and shellfish to survive. In contrast, compost buffers pH changes, promotes healthy organism growth, and provides much-needed trace elements that artificial fertilizers lack.
Compost and Erosion – In addition to promoting plant growth, compost helps prevent erosion. United States croplands are losing topsoil about 18 times faster than the soil formation rate.4 Sometimes referred to as “Peak Soil” the solution is to use local soils and keep nutrients within the local organic cycle. Composting is one way of restoring nature’s balance. If you want to learn more, turn your attention to the classic book, “The Soils That Support Us” by Charles E. Kellogg, originally published in 1941 but holds messages that still ring true today.
Healthy soils are a critical component of sustainable living. In sum, Harvest’s compost-based products:
- Add nutrients into the soil
- Improve soil structure, texture and aeration
- Increase the water-holding capacity of soil
- Loosen clay soils and helps sandy soils retain watern
- Promote soil fertility
- Stimulate healthy root development
- Reduce reliance on petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides
- Reduce the need for irrigation
- Retain and filters stormwater
- Control erosion and stormwater sediment
- Reduce weeds naturally when applied as mulch
The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.
Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.
All gardens are a form of autobiography.
Gardens are the result of a collaboration between art and nature.
Gardens, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community. When people plant corn they are saying, let’s stay here. And by their connection to the land, they are connected to one another.
Like people everywhere, and perhaps more than most, city dwellers want and need gardens and growing things.
~Lynden B. Miller
When the soil disappears, the soul disappears.
The great challenge for the garden designer is not to make the garden look natural, but to make the garden so that the people in it will feel natural.
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men.
When we learn to call flowers by name we take the first step toward a real intimacy with them.
~Mrs. William Starr Dana
Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.
Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.
For a high minded man agriculture is the best of all occupations.
Gardens cannot be considered in detachment from the people who make them.
The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world.
~Charles Dudley Warner
The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing better than they have ever done before.
There, with her baskets and spades and clippers, and wearing her funny boyish shoes and with the sunborn sweat soaking her eyes, she is part of the sky and earth, possibly a not too significant part, but a part.
To dig and delve in nice, clean dirt
Can do a mortal little hurt.
~John Kendrick Bangs
I never had any other desire so strong and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden.
“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”
…Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”
“To plant seeds in—to make things grow—to see them come alive.”
~Frances Hodgson Burnett
I’ve had enough of gardening—I’m just about ready to throw in the trowel.
So THAT’S what hay looks like.
If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it in a very real sense. “Green fingers” are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.
I farm—a kind of painting on earth, a kind of writing on earth—because of the constantly changing patterns I can create with water, seed, soil, sunlight, the weather. The memories of what I have made, the visions of what I hope to bring into existence, and the image of narrow channels of water wanding their way through the back yards of my small valley: these are what most deeply motivate me.
The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.
It is curious, pathetic almost, how deeply seated in the human heart is the liking for gardens and gardening.
There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.
To take a spade or a spading fork on a crisp fall day and without undue haste or backbreaking effort to turn over slice after slice of sweet-smelling earth can bring rich rewards to the gardener who fully understands just what he is accomplishing.
He who plants a garden, plants happiness.
The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the whole world.
~Charles Dudley Warner
To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch their renewal of life, this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.
~Charles Dudley Warner
What I enjoy is not the fruits alone, but I also enjoy the soil itself, its nature and its power.
Working in the garden…gives me a profound feeling of inner peace. Nothing here is in a hurry. There is no rush toward accomplishment, no blowing of trumpets. Here is the great mystery of life and growth. Everything is changing, growing, aiming at something, but silently, unboastfully, taking its time.
No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth.
I personally like manure. I never feel so affluent as when bringing back the occasional load of high-class dung. When we moved here and I was preparing the new garden, Stu brought a pickup load of horse manure as a garden-warming present. I never had a more welcome or thoughtful gift.
No poet I’ve ever heard of has written an ode to a load of manure. Somebody should, and I’m not trying to be funny.
One of the most endearing qualities of gardeners, though it makes their gardens worse, is this faculty of being too easily delighted.
I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I work in the garden.
. ~John Erskine
The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.
~Thomas D. Church
The doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.
~Frank Lloyd Wright
When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. “Quality of Food Plants Grown with Compost from Biogenic Waste.” Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 27 (1989) 483-491.
4. How to Grow More Vegetables, by John Jeavons7th Ed. 1006. Berkeley, CA