Composting Fertilizers Gardening Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day Soil

Feed Your Soil’s Microflora and Microfauna and Your Plants Will Thank You!

Feeding  the soil with compost will make your plants very happy!

I often get very interesting messages from the readers of my blog. For example, after I wrote about the difference between fertilizer and compost just the other day, I received a very interesting letter that deserves to be widely shared.

Here it is:

I would have liked it if you’d told your readers that plants (all plants, including trees) get 90% or more of their nutrients from the air – CO2 + H2O (photosynthesis) = C6-H12-O6 (sugar) + O2 (which we need to breathe!) – and that only 10% of the nutrients, at most, come from nutrients in the soil.

They’ll be surprised to find that the purpose of compost is to feed the soil’s microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, etc.), not the plant itself!

Feeding the soil pays more than feeding the plant with chemical fertilizer and in the long run (you are very right), if you don’t feed the soil, you’ll always need to add more and more chemical nutrients to obtain an equivalent or even reduced yield.


Yvon Beaulieu
Medical Biologist

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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