Woodland Oaks Homeowners' Association

Difference between compost and mulch

What is the difference between compost and mulch?

Mar 02, 2002

Do you know the difference between compost and mulch? It can be confusing.
Mulch is an organic or inorganic material placed on top of the soil. Organic mulches can control soil temperature, reduce water evaporation, control weeds, and add to soil fertility as they decompose. Compost can be used as a mulch, but mulch isn?’t compost.
Compost is a mixture of decomposing and rotting debris that can add fertilizing elements back into the soil. ?“Finished?” compost is a rich black, crumbly substance that has that wonderful earthy smell. Compost is nature?’s way of getting rid of dead stuff.
Compost is easy to make. Just follow these steps.
Use a loose pile or a wire bin 3?’ to 5?’ in diameter (15?’ of wire = 5?’ round cage).
Layer 6?” to 8?” of leaves or other brown (dead) organic material (preferably shredded?—your lawnmower will do a fine job).
Add 1?” of compost or rich garden soil.
Add 1 cup of fertilizer per every 20 to 25 square feet of surface or 1?” of manure (you can also use fresh, green grass clippings).
Repeat the layers, moistening each layer as you go.
Turn the pile weekly in the summer or monthly in the winter.
Add moisture as needed to keep the pile damp but avoid keeping it too wet.
Depending on how diligent you are in turning and moistening the pile, you can have compost in 5-6 weeks. If you don?’t do anything to the pile, you will still have compost, but it will take longer.
Using compost in your garden is one of the best things you can do for your soil. Where you would normally use fertilizer, use compost. It works slower, but it builds up the soil by encouraging healthy microbe activity.
[Factoid: Do you know that in 1 tablespoon of healthy soil you will find 50 BILLION microbes? The microbes break down organic matter into its basic elements, making those elements available to growing plants. Microbes also take nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil. Nitrogen is the main ingredient in commercial fertilizer.]
As you add more organic matter to your soil, you also encourage earthworms. These little creatures are the gardener?’s friends because they loosen the soil and create airways in it as they eat their way through your garden. Their castings (what comes out the other end) are the richest and finest quality organic material available.
Recycle your or your neighbor?’s leaves in a compost pile. Or save the bags of leaves to use as mulch later in the year. You will help your garden and reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill?—a double blessing!

March in the Garden:
Early March, use slow release fertilizer on trees and shrubs, but not lawn. Do NOT use weed and feed fertilizer. It?’s a waste of your money.
Plant tomatoes, beans, and peppers. Late March, plant okra, cucumbers, squash, southern peas, and cantaloupe.
Plant perennials such as iris, daylilies, and perennial phlox and annuals such as petunias, ageratum and salvias.
Divide and transplant mums, liriope, daylilies, shasta daisies, and ajuga.

Happy Gardening!
Deedy Wright

Posted by HOHA_84 on 07/25/2017
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