Modern society has grown so accustomed to quick-fix solutions by artificial means that many tried and true methods, that have proven effective for millennia, have fallen by the wayside. As the history of composting proves, farming and gardening practices are no exception.
Since primitive times man has created compost, a combination of decomposed organic waste that is rich in nutrients for creating healthy soil, which in turn feeds plants.
Only in the past century has synthetic chemical fertilizer become the norm, so prevalent in fact that to many people composting is a new concept even though it dates back thousands of years.
Composting Throughout History
From the Bible, to ancient Chinese writings, to the Bagavad Vita, there is abundant documentation of composting practices throughout history:
- Prehistoric farmers created compost by mixing straw with domestic animal manure and other organic waste
- The Akkadians composted in ancient Mesopotamia
- Ancient Greeks fertilized their crops with straw from farm animal stalls
- The Romans composted, as documented by Roman author Pliny the Elder
- Native Americans and European settlers composted fish and “muck”
- George Washington used compost to increase his cash crop yield when converting his tobacco fields to wheat
- In the 1920s, Europeans modernized composting for the “organic” farming movement
- Europeans like J.I. Rodale (the founder of Rodale Organic Gardening) brought modernized composting practices to the United States
However, it was right around the beginning of the twentieth century when synthetic fertilizer emerged and ultimately displaced composting as the plant “food” of choice. This dependence on chemical fertilizer was largely a result of the worldwide population boom, motivating farmers to find easier, “quick-fix” solutions to increasing their crop yields to meet the growing demand.
Rather than invest months of time and energy in turning compost piles, modern farmers turned to chemical fertilizer instead. Unfortunately, the health of plants and the planet has suffered in the process. In fact, the benefits of natural compost over synthetic fertilizer are numerous and significant, a fact best illustrated by the phenomenal growth of the organic food movement in recent years, relying only on natural means of feeding vegetables, fruits and grains.
You too can realize the benefits of home composting for your own plants, be it a vast vegetable and herb garden or just a few potted plants inside the house. Though traditional composting involves a “churn-and-turn” method that takes months to realize results, new composting technology shortens the process dramatically, including grub composting bins which can break down your kitchen waste in as little as two days time!