• Andrew Nielsen

Mulch vs. Compost

I am not an expert gardener or botanist. I want any reader to understand that. I am going to try to continuously learn and share that new knowledge with any readers. One thing that I have learned a little about to date is the basic difference between mulch and compost. I used to hear people throw those terms around and it took me a while before I understood the difference.

Black Plastic Sheet Mulch:

The photo above gives a clear picture of what mulch is. It is something that is placed over a garden bed primarily to prevent weeds and to retain moisture in the soil. Water in soil that is exposed to sun and wind will constantly evaporate. The mulch cover helps to retain moisture in the soil while also blocking out weeds. Note that in the area between the two beds, that is not covered by the black plastic mulch, wild grasses and weeds are growing vigorously.

Red Cedar Wood Mulch:

The photo above shows a type of mulch that most people are more familiar with in my area. Shredded red cedar mulch is placed in landscape beds for the same reason that the plastic mulch was used in my vegetable garden. It suppresses weeds and helps the soil to retain moisture for desirable flowering plants. It also happens to look beautiful.

New Compost Bin:

The photo above shows the latest addition to my mini farm. It is my first compost pile. It may be a little hard to see but it is mostly grass and weed clippings with some white paper towel kitchen waste and a little bit of food waste also from the kitchen. I just put this out on August 1, 2020 and I intend to show updates of how things progress as I try to make my own compost.

So what is compost? It is basically organic waste that has been heaped in a pile outdoors. Bacteria and fungi break the organic materials down. The pile of organic material slowly decomposes over time and at the end of the process you have the end product (compost) which is soil-like and can be added to a garden bed as a form of fertilizer. That's the basics of it. Now, not to confuse an issue that I am trying to clarify, but you can actually spread compost in a layer on top of a garden bed. And guess what? It will act as a mulch as well as a form of fertilizer!

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