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What is compost?:
Healthy soil grows healthy plants. Perhaps nothing is more important to the health of your soil than organic matter.
If your soil is already loaded with plenty of organic matter, that’s great. If organic matter is lacking, then you should add some.
Compost is a natural product that provides that necessary organic matter to your soil.
Compost is biologically stable material produced by the decomposition of organic matter.
Composting occurs by itself in nature, as leaves, fallen trees and other plants and organic materials mix together, allowing nature, over time, to turn them into loose, moist humus. This is how the most fertile growing regions of the world got that way.
By bringing organic materials and other ingredients together in proper proportions into piles or other controlled configurations, the biological process can be accelerated. Instead of taking years, decades or even centuries, like in nature, mature compost can be made at a composting facility in a matter of months.
Depending on the facility that produces the product, compost can be made from yard and landscape waste, food scraps and processing wastes and animal manure. Some producers compost sludge from wastewater treatment plants (biosolids), creating a product that is commonly used, but controversial.
Nutrients found in chemical fertilizers – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – are important for your plants. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Here are some of the benefits that compost provides to your soil – and in turn, your plants:
* Compost makes your soil spongier, improving its ability to hold water. That means your plants have a more consistent supply of water. It also means less water is wasted.
* Compost has the ability to stabilize the pH of a soil. pH is a measurement of the acidity. On a scale of zero to 14, zero represents high acidity, 7 represents a neural pH and 14 represents high alkalinity. pH in soil is determined by factors like the type of ground up rock contained in the soil, elements that leach into the soil through rainfall and the use of fertilizers. Most plants like a soil pH close to neutral or slight acidic. A very high or very low pH can be harmful to plants.
* Compost helps plants to build a stronger root system. When a person isn’t eating properly, disease and poor health can result. The same is true of plants. A plant can only be as healthy as its roots allow it to be. A strong root system allows a plant to properly absorb nutrients, to grow stronger and to better defend against pests and plant diseases. Plants with strong cell walls have been found to be less affected by insect invaders.
* Compost has been shown to suppress certain plant diseases.
* Compost enhances a plant’s ability to access and retain nutrients. With the exception of composted manure, compost generally is not intended to be a supplier of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. But compost typically does contain these and many other macro- and micronutrients that are essential for healthy plants. But equally as important, by improving the cation exchange capacity of soil, it helps the soil to retain nutrients longer.
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