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Do you know the difference between compost and mulch?

Okay, if you’re an expert gardener – you probably think this is a silly question. For those of us lesser green fingered humans, it might not be quite so clear!

January 19, 2024

Compost and mulch are like the dynamic duo of the gardening world, each playing its own crucial role in promoting a healthy and thriving garden. While they might seem similar at first glance, they are quite different.

Compost

Compost is like the nutrient-rich superfood for your soil! It’s a mixture of decomposed organic matter, often made from kitchen scraps, garden waste, and other biodegradable materials, and packed with essential nutrients such as:

  • Nitrogen (a building block for growing new stems and leaves, plus it’s a necessary part of chlorophyll, which makes the leaves green and helps plants photosynthesise).

  • Phosphorus (needed for developing flowers, fruits, and root systems).

  • Potassium (keeps roots health and aids in the development of flowers and fruit, and root systems).

  • Micronutrients (such as iron, manganese, copper, and zinc).

​​​​This organic goodness improves soil structure, boosts water retention, and encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms. It's like giving your garden a spa day – pampering the soil to ensure it's in top-notch condition and stays that way.

Mulch

Mulch is more like a protective blanket for your garden. It’s a layer of material, often made from things such as straw, wood chips, leaves or pebbles, spread over the surface of garden soil.

  • It shields your garden from the elements, acting as a natural insulator, regulating soil temperature by keeping it cooler in the scorching heat and warmer during colder nights.

  • It helps prevent weed growth by blocking sunlight.

  • It reduces water evaporation from the soil, particularly in hot weather.   

  • Plus, some mulching materials break down over time, contributing organic matter to the soil, adding just a hint of compost-like magic!

In a nutshell, compost is like the vitamins and minerals you consume for a healthy body, while mulch is the cosy blanket you wrap around yourself for protection and comfort.

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