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Compost vs Fertilizer – Which Should You Use?


When it comes to your garden, you want to make sure you’re doing all that you can to ensure a healthy growing environment for your plants. While you can make sure your plants receive plenty of sun and are getting the right amount of water, you really need to consider the soil that they’re growing in.

So, the question is, should you use fertilizer or compost?

Perhaps the easiest way to decipher the difference between fertilizer and compost is to remember that fertilizer feeds the plants, while compost feeds the soil.  They each have a number of pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, compost is our top choice with more pros and fewer cons. Keep reading for a break down on the benefits and drawbacks for each.


Gardening Compost
Image Credit By: Antranias, pixabay

Compost is decomposed, organic matter. It enhances the soil and can include any natural items such as leaves, sticks, grass clippings and kitchen waste, including old fruits and vegetables and egg shells.

Compost is typically mixed together in a pile and then left to decompose naturally through microbial and bacterial process. Of course, this can take some time so if you’re eager to use compost, you’re going to have to be patient and allow time for the process.

However, even though compost takes a while to make, it will bring a long list of benefits to your garden. Compost adds an extra boost to your soil, giving your plants additional nutrients through their roots. Compost works to help your garden soil retain moisture.

The organic matter can help your plants fight off diseases and it can also fight off weeds and other garden pests. Compost is also known to help fight off erosion, which is another benefit.

Put simply, compost is the organic alternative to fertilizer, however, there are a good number of natural fertilizers out there that are mostly void of harsh chemicals. It all depends or your needs and what is most important to you when choosing what you think what will be most beneficial for your plants.

Honestly, there aren’t too many drawbacks of compost. One con is that using compost is less instant than using fertilizer because compost requires time and patience for organic materials to break down. So, unless you have a pile of decaying fruits and vegetables at the ready, you’ll need to wait for that to happen before you can make and use compost.

  • Helps your soil maintain moisture
  • Cheaper than fertilizer
  • More environmentally friendly than fertilizer
  • Controls weeds and eliminates diseases
  • Requires time and patience
  • Foul odors

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Plant Fertilizer
Image Credit By: Soo Ann Woon, pexels

Fertilizer works to feed the plants directly right away. By adding fertilizer, you’re essentially giving your plants “vitamins” to enrich elements including magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help alleviate deficiencies. Fertilizers are also known to help plants grow faster because they target and overcome deficiencies.

Some people may question why they need fertilizer, especially if they had naturally great garden soil to begin with. But as your plants grow, they absorb the natural nutrients in the soil, leaving it void of those rich nutrients. By adding fertilizer, you’re giving those nutrients back so that your plants will continue to grow and flourish.

Another good thing about fertilizer is that there are many different kinds, including organic varieties, which are made for specific plants. These fertilizers will really cater to the needs of each plant. When shopping for a fertilizer, be sure to think about the plants you have and what you think they need. If selecting an organic fertilizer is important to you, you should be able to easily find one, too.

Fertilizers may be sounding pretty great, but there are some drawbacks to them.

Chemicals found in fertilizers can be harmful to the environment. If they find their way into waterways, they can contaminate it, causing excess algae and a loss of oxygen in the water. This is why it’s important not to overuse fertilizers, but to apply them modestly.

It is also possible for fertilizers to give your plants too many nutrients. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be harmful and too many nutrients piled onto your plats can be detrimental to their health and growth.

  • Adds immediate nutrients to plants
  • Can give plants specifically what they need
  • An abundance of varieties
  • Typically made using chemicals
  • Can be harmful to the environment
  • Too much used can be harmful to plants

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In the end, we’d recommend using compost. Poor plant health is typically the result of poor soil conditions. By adding compost to your soil, you’re supplying your garden with an abundance of natural, rich nutrients that will do their job in an environmentally friendly way.

With the addition of compost, your plants should do so well that they won’t even need fertilizer.  Creating your own compost is also cheap and simple, it just takes a little more time. So, plan ahead and then wait to enjoy watching your plants flourish.

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