To continue our information about compost, let’s talk more about using un-composted material. Although in time un-composted materials will eventually decompose, adding organic matter directly to the soil without first composting it may have some undesirable effects. For example, if large quantities of un-composted leaves are incorporated into the soil, microbes will compete with plants’ roots for soil nitrogen during leaf decomposition. This competition for nitrogen can result in nitrogen deficiency and poor plant growth. The composting process breaks down organic materials into an end use product that increases the availability of essential minerals, such as potassium and phosphorous, to growing plants and reduces the competition for nitrogen. The addition of composted materials to soils also improves physical properties, such as tilth, infiltration, drainage, and water-holding capacity. Composted material is much easier to handle and mix with soil than un-composted material.