Reasons to compost and reasons not to

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The sustainable landscape is cyclical, not linear; nothing goes to waste in a sustainable system. Nowhere is this truer than in the dance between living plants and compost. You have the opportunity to take part in one of the great cycles of life, and the payoff for you is healthier plants, lower fertilizer bills, richer soil, and less green waste being hauled away by noisy diesel-spewing trucks. This benefit is reason enough to compost, but when you finally harvest your finished compost and run the silky, fragrant stuff through your hands, you finally understand what it means to be a truly sustainable gardener.

Some circumstances may make composting impractical or unnecessary. One is lack of space for a compost pile, but that's a pretty lame excuse since some compost containers take up a tiny 2 x 2 foot area. You can even use worm composters in the kitchen. A more legit reason to not have a composting system is that your landscaping doesn't generate enough green waste to supply it. That can happen if you've done a bang-up job of choosing the right plants; then nothing really ever needs to be cut back.

vtjABEfl Small quantities of clippings should be cut up and left as an offering at the <gy~~jS\ base of the plant they came from. This practice is called the chop and drop method, and it can absorb virtually all the plant parts in a well-balanced garden. (Flip to Chapter 20 for more on this method.)

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