Compost vs. Fertilizers: What’s the Difference?

Ed Wike
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Definition of Compost

Compost is more than just a dirt and soil additive … it’s organic material that’s been decomposed by microorganisms into a fine, dark product. Compost is created by processing natural materials like leaves, weeds, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and food scraps. Turning these materials into compost releases an important benefit for the environment: the production of natural fertilizer to grow food and control weeds.

Composting is a very important part of taking care of your yard because it:

  • a) It improves the quality of the soil in your lawn or garden
  • b) It prevents waste from piling up in landfills while also generating a valuable ingredient for growing organic produce

C) It’s faster, easier, and more effective than artificial fertilizers.

Definition of Fertilizer

It is a material which supplies essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements to the soil. These essential nutrients are used to replace the deficit nutrients from the soil or to enhance the growth of plants. Soil fertility is the ability of the soil to support healthy plant growth.

The important components of the nutrient elements in fertilizer are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg), boron, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, and sulfur. These nutrients are either volatile, meaning they will easily vaporize in the soil, or soluble, meaning they will dissolve in water and be readily available to the plant.

It is a type of organic material where agricultural waste products are processed, stabilized and converted into a commodity.

Advantages of Using Compost

Pstisupasture that is applied throughout the growing season in layers and tilled in before planting is a great way to build up garden soils. It also can reduce the dependence on purchased fertilizers.

Add compost at the beginning of spring to your garden each year, using the addition as a way to prep for planting. Broadcast applications of compost will loosen the soils, help add nutrients to those soils, and break up any clods.

Here are a few ways to increase the number of things your compost heap contains:

  • Add lawn clippings, leaves, and vegetable matter to the heap.
  • Add manure from cattle, horses, sheep, or poultry.
  • Add composted materials from a different source.
  • Use compost imported from a composting facility.
  • Start a separate compost pile for yard residue.
  • Include annual layers of green waste that you may otherwise dump in the landfill, such as fallen leaves, grass cuttings, and kitchen scraps.

Disadvantages of Using Compost

Since compost is full of rich nutrients, its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen will be dosed out quickly and can burn plants. If you are not careful, you can also over-apply compost, which will make your garden too fertile. This will later lead to nutrients leaching into the water table, food chain, and eventually your drinking water.

Another disadvantage will be that compost is prone to clumping after it has been weathered. While this can lead to better aeration, it can also lead to the crusting and crusting. This can lead to a slew of problems that include reduced water and nutrient absorption, as well as the death of the soil microbes. Not only that, but the presence of hard materials in the compost, such as sticks and rocks, can make it difficult to put it in the ground.

How to Make Your Own Compost

If you are living in a city where trash disposal is a major concern, the answer may be as simple as having a small compost container where you store all your vegetable scraps and food waste. All you have to do is add water when necessary and turn the contents every once in a while, preferably with a stiff stick to break down chunks into usable compost.

Another thing you can do is to follow the cold composting method. Here, you pile your scraps inside a garbage can and bury them under a 6” layer of soil.

Keep diligent in piling soil around the can, and after a couple of weeks, you can check what has developed behind your back. This method may not be advisable for novice composters because you must make sure that there are no rodent or other animal intruders that will compromise the compost pile.

You can also use plastic bags to pile up your vegetable scraps. It’s a good idea to put a layer of soil or compost before adding your scraps. The idea is that you are placing a layer of inviting compost on top of compostable materials, and if you do it right, you’ll be able to turn the compost pile with a pitchfork.

What You Need

To Know About Compost vs. Fertilizers

Fertilizers differ from compost primarily because of what is added. Compost can be made by cooking your own waste and is mostly used for gardening. Fertilizers, on the other hand, are made from a variety of sources, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

Fertilizers are meant to be used on plants that you don’t eat because they can be harmful for animals and people if consumed in large amounts. Don’t think that just because your dad feeds the lawn with the leftover steak scraps and rice, that is fine for the food plants, it is not.

There are three main components to fertilizers, as well. They all include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Phosphorous and calcium are also added to plants that are grown for the purpose of yielding fruits and vegetables.

Nitrogen is usually illustrated by an N or a number two symbol. Phosphorous is illustrated by an F or a number five. Potassium is illustrated by a K or a number nineteen. All three are used to promote overall growth. Usually, strength and fullness of the plants depend on how much nitrogen is being used.

The Method

The process by which items break down to become compost is called decomposition. It is an all-natural cycle of nutrient recirculation that occurs all over the world and is crucial to the continued health of our planet. It is even considered to be the process that made the earth inhabitable for human beings. And although it is easy to take for granted, it is generally considered to be a very gradual process.

When we are working with compost in our own backyards, however, most of us have the feeling that we would like to speed up the cycle of decomposition. But with a little mindful attention and experience, we can learn to recognize the whens and how’s of growing compost.

Most importantly, when it comes to composting, you should avoid heeding the advice that you will get from some of the sources on the Web. It is important that you apply the knowledge that you have about any process. It is important that you have the right foundation of knowledge about how things work. It is important that you understand that there is a process of plant development going on all the time. And then you need to apply your wisdom and experience to the goal of growing a healthier garden by growing compost.

Advantages of Using Fertilizer

While compost can be more cost-effective and reduce waste that goes to the landfill, there is still a vital need to use fertilizer on your plants. It is true that homemade compost is better than water alone for the soil's restoration and nutrient balance. But to achieve best growth, your plants need more nutrients than the organic cycle of decay and growth can add. For this reason, you should supplement your compost with fertilizer.

Here are the advantages of fertilizer over compost.

It contains elements such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and iron, which are crucial for plant growth.

It can rejuvenate damaged soils.

It provides the wide variety of nutrients that your plants need. It doesn't produce an excess that could be harmful to your plants.

It can keep your soil balanced.

It also limits the risk of a nitrogen burn in your plants.

It saves you money. Quality fertilizer is more cost-effective than making your own compost organically. Brands are also readily available.

It promotes healthy plants, which improves your garden's appearance. Your garden, house, and plants will look better than if you use only compost.

Disadvantages of Using Fertilizer

Within several months, you will see the results of your hard work. Along with your successful vegetables, you will also see the effects of your fertilization. This is both a good and a bad thing. Some fertilizer is good for your soil, and some is bad. Knowing how to cultivate, grow, and harvest your garden and equip it with the best possible fertilizer is important.

The most common fertilizers are derived from plants and animals. In the plant kingdom, we have natural forms such as fish emulsion, manure, and seaweed, or synthetic forms such as urea and ammonium nitrate. Both of these types are great for nourishing your garden. They are rich in nutrients, which are essential for the health and growth of your vegetables and fruits.

Final Verdict: Compost or Fertilizer?

Knowing what your compost is made up of can help determine which kind you should use. If you only have a few trees on your property, and they’re only producing a few leaves, it would be most effective to use compost. This kind of compost would own high nitrogen content, but it is still safe for your other plants and flowers to grow.

Fertilizers, however, are more effective if you have a lawn. They are made up of high nitrogen and low carbon that help your grass grow faster and thicker.

The trick to looking your best with foliage, however, is to make sure your plants have the right combination of the right nutrients. Do you know what kind of nutrients your soil needs? Because if you don’t, your lawn will suffer.

And the best way to know what nutrients your plants need is by taking care of your soil. What is that you say? Taking care of your soil means caring for your plants in a way that fertilizers, organic matter, and compost can accomplish.