ITS NOT JUST DIRT ANYMORE
It's not news that
compost contains nutrients, organic matter and beneficial organisms. However, the nutrient
levels are normally low and the organic matter in compost is not long-lasting. So why is
it that it works so well?
It's the Fungus!
Fungi: These beneficial
organisms take up the space and food supply used by pathogenic (destructive) fungi that
attack plants. Some strains can break down organic materials, like cellulose, turning a
piece of wood into available nutrients. Others assist roots in nutrient uptake. The
mycelium filaments of some fungi trap and feed on soil nematodes.
There are many
different strains of bacteria that perform different functions. Some fix nitrogen out of
the air creating unlimited, automatic fertilization. Others break down organic nutrients
into plant usable form.
Actinomycetes: Convert nutrients to plant
useable form and release antibiotic compounds that STOP THE GROWTH OF UNDESIRABLE
BACTERIA. Dominant species are Thermo actinomycetes, micromonospora and
These organisms require fresh carbon as a food source thereby breaking down organic matter
in the soil.
Pseudomonads: Can control plant pathogens and
convert nutrients to usable form.
small amount of atmospheric nitrogen to the soil.
The introduction of 2
tablespoons per gallon of compost into your potting mix will add millions of beneficial
organisms. They will feed, medicate and protect your plants.
Potting soil needs
beneficial microbes to convert organic fertilizer into available nutrients and safeguard
the plant from disease.
Types of Compost
Many different types of
compost are available, greenwaste from the city, humus from the local nursery,
bagged grow mixes and mulches and bagged composted chicken or steer manure.
THE GOOD STUFF
Plant and or animal
compost that is fully composted. It should have a uniformly fine texture with no visible
pieces, a rich dark color and no odor. Composted manure is the best choice because there
is almost no chance for plant pathogens to be present. Bagged compost should be kept out
of the sun so it wont get too hot and kill the microbes. Composted chicken or steer
manure can be found at any nursery center. If you need a large quantity look in the Yellow
Pages under Compost.
Remember you are not
adding compost for nutrients or organic matter, but for the beneficial living organisms it
establishes to release the nutrients in the fertilizer. Any nutrients and organic matter
are a small bonus.
Partially composted plant
Plant compost has the potential to contain plant diseases if not
composted correctly. Avoid any compost that has visible pieces of raw materials.
Compost that has sewer sludge:
If it has sludge in it, it will smell like it, bad, and the smell won't go away.
Humus and Grow Mixes:
are wood products treated with chemical nitrogen. The nitrogen bonds with carbon, heating
the pile and creating an imitation composted product. Any beneficial organisms present in
the raw materials are eliminated.
High Tech Bacteria
If compost just
isn't your thing, several companies are now offering products that contain laboratory
grown beneficial bacteria. It looks and smells like malt.
The labs aren't
satisfied with just producing high tech Bacteria, they are also producing sophisticated
fungi. Several different companies now beneficial fungi that protect against plant
As simple as 1,2,3,4,5