Compost vs Fertilizer for Kitchen Garden

Both compost and fertilizers are essential for a healthy kitchen garden or your plants. To get the best from your soil, it needs healthy organic activity and elemental chemical composition. But are the two products, compost and fertilizer, work in same manner?

Amending your soil with compost provides many more nutrients and benefits than fertilizers can and, its sustainable!

Nutrients – What Plants Need and Why!

Plants, like other living things need nutrients to keep growing. Most fertilizer packages list three plant nutrients-nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K, in that order);

Nitrogen(N) (Source: Air/Soil) spurs on leafy growth. With too much nitrogen, some plants will not flower; too little (deficiency) and plants may have pale-green or yellowish older leaves or yellow-white leaves.

Nitrogen deficiency symptoms in plants. source

Phosphorus(P) (Source: Soil) encourages good blooming and root development. Too little phosphorus will cause stunted plant growth and purplish younger leaves.

Phosphorous deficiency in tomato leaf. source

Potassium (K)(Source: Soil) is directly involved in photosynthesis (the process of converting sunlight to energy). It also encourages disease resistance and sturdy stems. Without enough potassium, a plant may have yellowish or spotted older leaves.Older leaves in the plants can show curled or necrotic margins (premature death of living cells).

However, there are many more, commonly called micronutrients. Find belw the most important ones:

Calcium(Ca) (Source: Soil) promotes strong cells and root growth. Plants take up calcium during water movement within the plant and its evaporation from aerial parts such as leaves. Environmental conditions, such as heat or drought, may make it difficult for some plants to absorb calcium. If plants don’t get enough calcium, they may drop blossoms, show yellow edges on young leaves, or have curled leaves. Its deficiency can cause shoots and root tips to die off.

Calcium deficiency on new leaves. source

Sulfur (S) (Source: Soil) is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants that converts light to energy). It promotes healthy roots and lowers soil pH. Without enough sulfur, a plant’s new leaves may appear yellowed. Deficiencies are uncommon, however. If there is a deficiency, it results into overall yellowing of the plant.

It’s necessary to note the difference between magnesium and manganese, as some people tend to get them confused. While both magnesium and manganese are essential minerals, they have very different properties.

Magnesium(Mg) (Source: Soil) is a part of the chlorophyll molecule. Acidic, sandy soils often contain less magnesium than alkaline, humus-rich, or clay soils. Too much nitrogen or potassium may make it difficult for plants to absorb magnesium. Plants that are lacking in magnesium will become pale green or yellow. A plant with a magnesium deficiency will show signs of yellowing first on the older leaves near the bottom of the plant.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms. source

Manganese (Mn) (Source: Soil) is not a part of chlorophyll. The symptoms of manganese deficiency are remarkably similar to magnesium because manganese is involved in photosynthesis. Leaves become yellow and there is also interveinal chlorosis.

However, manganese is less mobile in a plant than magnesium so the symptoms of deficiency appear first on young leaves. It’s always best to get a sample to determine the exact cause of the symptoms.

Manganese deficiency symptoms. source

Iron(Fe) (Source: Soil) is more available to plants if the soil is acidic. Lowering the soil pH (by adding organic matter or Sulfur) may be more beneficial than adding more iron. Since iron is also associated with chlorophyll, a lack of iron may result in stunted plant growth and younger leaves turning yellow. The yellowing often starts at the edges and spreads inward.

Chlorine(Cl) (Source: Soil) is important to plant metabolism and influences water movement within the plant. Too little chlorine is rare. Too much chlorine is more common, especially around swimming pools, and results in brown leaf tips. Entire leaves may turn yellow and fall from the plant.

Chlorine deficiency symptoms. source

Zinc(Zn) (Source: Soil) helps the plant use sugars, which influence plant size and growth rate. Without enough zinc in the soil, the plant leaves may be smaller than usual or have puckered-looking edges.

Zinc deficiency symptoms. source

Boron(B) (Source: Soil) influences how plants use and absorb other nutrients. Too little boron in the soil may cause dead or deformed new growth or unusually brittle leaves. Plants require very little boron, however.

Copper(Cu) (Source :Soil) is a part of many proteins and is important to plant reproduction. When plants lack copper, their younger leaves may be misshapen or dark blue-green.

Copper deficiency in canola plants. source

Molybdenum (Mo) (Source: Soil) influences how plants use nitrogen. Plants require only minute amounts, but without enough of this mineral, plants may look as if they’re nitrogen deficient with pale-green or yellowish older leaves.

Molybdenum deficiency symptoms in a cauliflower leaf. source

Compost contains not only N-P-K, but also ALL the micronutrients as well!. Supply of sufficient and efficient balanced nutrition is important for plants optimal growth.

So these are the major nutrient deficiencies and their symptoms . We hope this information will be useful for many of you.

Published by RISE Foundation

NGO Working in Waste Managament, Environmrnt Protection and Women Empowerment

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