Monday, April 11, 2011


To begin this garden season we decided it would be best to jump start our soil improvements by ordering four cubic yards of compost. We have a sandy loam soil that lets the water run straight through. By continually adding soil improvements, I hope to increase its water holding capacity and provide natural nutrients for the plants. Since I cannot possibly make enough compost to feed my whole garden, I had to purchase. There are a few things you need to know when purchasing compost. First is to figure out the amount you will need. In general, about 4 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet is good for just about any application. You can add more, but this depends on the product. The picture above, is a four cubic yard pile of compost. It took two of us about 2 hours to spread by hand so don't be intimidated. When you purchase compost it can come from varying sources. You will need to ask. You can buy a manure based product or a yard waste based product. The safest way to go is to buy a yard waste product. This product does not run the risk of being hot and burning your plants if you over apply. It should be dark in color, show no signs of its parent product and smell like rich dirt. A well composted manure product can also be very useful. It should not smell like manure if it has been composted completely and will generally cost more than a product that still needs to break down some more. If it smells like manure be cautious! Not to say this isn't a good product, you just need to be more careful in your usage of it. It will need to be tilled or spade in well and not over applied or it will burn your plants.
Spread the compost evenly over the surface of your area. If you need to till it in you can use a spade, rototiller or wheel hoe. Yearly applications of compost along with tilling in leaves goes a long way to improving your soil the natural way. We went with a manure product this year that needed tilled. Let me tell you, it was a bit stinky! I hope the neighbors don't notice!
This is my garden. Tilled and ready to plant! Happy Gardening!

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