Differentiating Compost and Fertilizer- Step Towards Green Future
In the lawn and garden community, there is a lot of confusion about compost vs fertilizer and which is better. New gardeners often struggle to understand these terms and their uses, and even experienced gardeners can misuse them! However, a common question you may hear is, “Is compost better than fertilizer?” The answer to that question can be muddied when terms are misused, and concepts are misunderstood. Here’s what you need to know!
What is compost?
Compost is decomposed organic material that serves as enriched soil for gardens and other similar uses. Simply put, Compost is the “black gold” of soil. By combining green elements like kitchen scraps with brown elements like leaves and paper bags, as well as water and air, bacteria will build up in your compost pile and slowly break down the matter, creating rich soil.
You can create your own compost at home through various methods, and many gardeners have turned to this natural process as a green way to reuse their kitchen scraps in an environmentally friendly way that helps produce organic fruits and vegetables with their garden.
What is fertilizer?
Fertilizer, on the other hand, works differently than compost. Fertilizer supplies nutrients to your plants and can come in both organic and chemical fertilizers.
Chemical fertilizers are artificial products that are created for the purpose of growing your veggies bigger, faster, and greener. This type of fertilizer is usually found in those big green bags in your local hardware store’s lawn and garden section. These fertilizers offer a particular balance of nutrients but can be harmful if misused or overused. For instance, nitrogen will mean lots of healthy green leaves but not as much fruit. So it’s important to understand how these fertilizers will impact your garden depending on what you’re trying to grow.
Organic fertilizers, however, are natural products such as bloodmeal or bonemeal. These options have less of an impact on your garden as a whole and are generally safer to use. That being said, you should still be careful not to overuse organic fertilizers. Be sure to follow the instructions based on the size of your garden and what you’re trying to grow.
Is compost better than fertilizer?
Compost and fertilizer have different uses, making it difficult to ascribe one over the other. Compost is better for creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden to grow in, whereas fertilizer can address any nutrient deficiencies your soil may have. Adding certain fertilizers to your compost may round out its benefits and boost its ability to nourish your garden.
You can send a sample of your soil to be analyzed for deficiencies if you are interested to know how you can improve your garden this year. That will let you know the best way to prepare your compost to fill in any missing nutrients.
That being said, for beginner gardeners, compost is probably the best and most rounded option. It offers a broader range of benefits than fertilizers and will generally help you grow any common garden fruits and vegetables.
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