There are many benefits of compost by working with nature, rather than against it. Below are just a few.
Plants do best in soil that is teeming with microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and earthworms. These and many, many other organism (known as soil biota) make a soil food web that provides the nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive. All these organisms create an environment for roots that allow for uptake of nutrients. This is the exact “fertilizer” that the forests of the world thrive upon.
Healthy plants have their own defense mechanisms that fight diseases and parasites. As the soil enriches, plants are able to draw the necessary nutrients to defeat pests. Using chemical fertilizers is like drinking coffee. Initially you get a burst of energy, but soon you quickly tire and more easily get sick.
Conventional chemical fertilizers just provide a few nutrients. Like you, plants need a wide range, and these are all provided when the soil is alive. Organic composts are at the base of the food web from which all life feeds either directly or indirectly from. Simply put, don't feed your plants; feed your soil.
With compost and soil biota, your dirt becomes more permeable and that allows roots to spread out and access nutrients from a larger area.
As the level of organic matter is built up, your soil becomes more like a sponge. Water now soaks in rather than runs off. Secondly more air space allows more water to be held. This means you use far less irrigation.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of compost. California is in a drought, and using compost can reduce you water consumption by as much as 50%. And at the same time maintain your lush garden.
There is just something about looking at rich, healthy. Apply compost, and then giving it few waterings, your soil will achieve that wonderful look of humus.
Applying a layer of compost prevents a large percentage of weeds from germinating. Those few that that do sprout, the soft soil allows them to be uprooted easily. If cultivating the top layer of soil is part of your normal gardening chores, then you can forget that with a layer of compost. The soil organisms will work the organics for you. Relax and smell your roses.
Improved Pest Resistance
Healthy soils create healthy plants, and healthy plants are good at resisting pests and diseases. Using insecticides kills not only the targets species, but typically kills all the organisms in the soil. The net effect is that your plants are weaker. The cycle continues where the weaker plants are more susceptible, more pesticides are applied, etc.
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