The difference between fertilizer and compost
When meeting customers for the first time, we usually ask, “When was the last time you fertilized your lawn or landscape?” and the answer is often, “I added compost last season.” While compost is an amazing soil conditioner that stimulates microbial activity and eventually provides nutrients to your plants, it’s not what we’d consider a fast acting “fertilizer”. In addition to compost, your lawn and landscape may also need an additional boost of nutrients from fertilizers in order to look their best.
What’s the difference between compost and fertilizer?
The simplest answer is that compost feeds the soil life first and fertilizers directly feed your plants. Compost helps soil retain moisture, improve drainage, and increase bioactivity. Soil microbes, earthworms and other soil critters eventually break down compost, releasing nutrients for your plants – but it takes time. Fertilizers meet specific nutritional requirements by providing nutrients that can be absorbed quickly by your plants, or over a shorter period of time.
While compost should be worked into your soil annually (more frequently in the vegetable garden), it doesn’t feed your plants right away. If you’ve ever added compost to the vegetable garden, only to be disappointed that plants still seem a bit peaked, then you know what we mean.
Boost the benefits of Compost
In order to harness and boost the benefits of compost, we filter it into a microbe rich liquid treatment called liquid compost extract. Liquid compost extract (LCE) delivers a concentrated dose of the best compost has to offer. Applying LCE to your lawn and landscape is a great way to quickly add a bounty of beneficial microbes to bring your landscape’s soil back to life. It can also be applied to plant leaves as a foliar spray, as it contains specific micronutrients.
Fertilizer contains specific amounts of macronutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium; and micronutrients such as Zinc and Copper, that plants require in order to grow and thrive. Nutrients provided in fertilizers are more quickly taken up by plants. If a plant is deficient in a certain nutrient it may decline, die or not produce fruit. So while compost can help your soil feed your plants over time, you should also fertilize plants to keep them healthy.
While we focus most of our energy on building healthy soil, we know that fertilizer is part of a successful lawn care plan. As part of our Soil Building program, we fertilize lawns and landscapes twice a year with a balanced organic fertilizer that benefits most all plants, including your lawn.
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