Comparison of composts to garden soil

Comparison of composts to garden soil

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A 15cm flower pot containing three different composts. To the left is leaf mould. To the top (rust hue) is a commercial peat-based compost. To the bottom right is a commercial loam based compost. The pot is standing on garden soil in Norfolk, UK. The garden soil has many small stones, sand particles, and plant remains. It also contains bacteria, fungi and animals including insects, worms and molluscs. The leaf mould contains mostly organic materials, but is poor in plant nutrients and not a good growing medium on its own. The peat-based compost is high in organic material (humus), but has a low mineral content and requires artificial fertilisers to sustain plant growth. The loam based compost is a mixture of mineral and organic material from loam with added fertilisers. It lacks the coarser mineral particles that are characteristic of garden soil, visible in the background.

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Keywords: biological, biology, botanical, botany, garden soil, humus, leaf mould, loam, loam-based compost, peat, peat-based compost, soil, soil animals, soil micro-organisms

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