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What is Compost?

Find out why we LOVE compost.

We LOVE compost! Why are we so crazy about compost? Read on...

Benefits of CompostGood Soil

Compost has many benefits for the soil and ecosystem. That's why it's considered "black gold." It's value to planet Earth are enormous. Compost:

  • adds nutrients and organic matter to soil
  • increases the moisture holding capacity of soil, reducing drought damage to plants
  • reduces rainwater runoff and the washing away of pollutants into our natural waterways and soil erosion
  • improves drainage and aeration of clay and compacted soils, preventing water logged plants and yards
  • increases capacity of soil to hold nutrients near plant roots, increasing plant health and healthy habitats
  • reduces need for fertilizers and pesticides that pollute natural waterways
  • reduces waste in the landfill and the transportation needed for hauling waste
  • helps seeds to sprout and water to soak in more easily by preventing the top of the soil to crust
  • immobilizes and degrades pollutants

What is compost?

Compost is the result of the natural biological cycle of growth and decay. A plant that has grown by gathering nutrients and water from the soil, energy from the sun, and carbon dioxide from the air, dies and becomes the raw material of the decay process. Microorganisms, worms, fungi and insects recycle materials from the decaying plants into their bodies and eventually back into the soil. Compost is the material that results from the decay process and is similar to organic matter in the soil.



The first recorded composter was Marcus Cato who lived over 2,000 years ago. George Washington Carver, famous for helping people understand the benefits of peanuts, also taught that compost was important for gardens and that it was cost-effective.


Find out about our Master Composter/Soil Builder volunteer outreach training program. Invite a Master Composter to educate or assist your group! Or become a Master Composter -- applications are usually accepted in winter for spring training. 

This information is from Seattle Tilth's Master Composter/Soil Builder notebook available for review in the Seattle Tilth office.

Check out Seattle Public Utilities Composting Information.


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