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  1. #1
    Elite Member Duffster's Avatar
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    Default How much compost?

    I am starting a new garden on a lot that had hay made off of it from as far back as I can remember until about 7 years ago when it started being mowed as lawn.

    I can buy finished compost from the local metro solid waste agency and was wondering how much (by volume) I should apply.

    My intention is to apply it this fall and have it rototilled in.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking." George Patton

  2. #2
    Elite Member schmism's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duffster View Post
    I am starting a new garden on a lot that had hay made off of it from as far back as I can remember until about 7 years ago when it started being mowed as lawn.

    I can buy finished compost from the local metro solid waste agency and was wondering how much (by volume) I should apply.

    My intention is to apply it this fall and have it rototilled in.

    have you done a soil test yet to determine what you REALLY need?

    cant say i have and i just dump about 5-10 heaping scoops of composted horse manure on mine each fall/winter.
    Steve - TC33D 4x4 FEL, dual rear remotes with toys

  3. #3
    Super Member bp fick's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Duffster

    Yes, do a ph test to see if you need to decrease the acid level.
    Lime to treat acid soil. Or, acidic sulfur to treat an alkaline condition. Just like a pool. Takes a month for these modifiers to work.

    That said, you would love to have compost an inch thick or more over your garden. If your bucket is 1/3 yard, 3 buckets to a yard?

    If your garden is 20 x 40, for example, you would want at minimum 2 yards. Personally, I would work in compost now, lots of it. 2" thick. I would also stock pile a yard for a fresh coating in spring to be worked in again. No sense making two trips. Maybe get another yard for other areas of the property. Flower beds, trees, etc?
    BP


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  4. #4
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Duffster

    I think it would be difficult to get too much compost worked into your soil. Especially if you are amending a heavy clay soil. For the first couple years you can really pile it on and work it in. Plants do grow very happily on a compost pile. Compost as you are talking about probably isn't very hot nitrogen-wise, but a test (or ask the facility manager) wouldn't hurt.

    Dave.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    I am with the others, you can't put too much on and any you put on will help.

    MarkV

  6. #6
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duffster View Post
    I am starting a new garden on a lot that had hay made off of it from as far back as I can remember until about 7 years ago when it started being mowed as lawn.

    I can buy finished compost from the local metro solid waste agency and was wondering how much (by volume) I should apply.

    My intention is to apply it this fall and have it rototilled in.
    I am under the impression that if you put compost on in the fall and rototill it in hoping to give next year's garden a boost, most of the nutrients will be gone by next spring as they will rot and decay over the winter. The snow and/or rain will leach out most of the nutrients in a few months. Any grasses that are alive after the tilling will be stronger and harder to kill next spring. I would concentrate on killing the grass and its root system first this fall so you can start with a clean slate in the spring.

    However, you can work on soil improvement this fall. Kill the grass, till it a few times and see what you have. You may need to add sand, clay, loam, certain types of compost, etc... depending on the soil type to improve its ability to hold water or drain water, depending on the case. Take some soil samples to your local county extension agent. They should be able to analyze it and tell you what to add to improve it.
    MossRoad

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  7. #7
    Elite Member Duffster's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Quote Originally Posted by bp fick View Post
    That said, you would love to have compost an inch thick or more over your garden. If your bucket is 1/3 yard, 3 buckets to a yard?
    That kind of what I wanted to hear. The new garden is 2800 square feet so I would need 9 yards @ 1" deep which is about how much I can haul at one time.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave1949 View Post
    I think it would be difficult to get too much compost worked into your soil.
    I guess that is what I was thinking but was wondering how much I would need to be worth the effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by MossRoad View Post
    I am under the impression that if you put compost on in the fall and rototill it in hoping to give next year's garden a boost, most of the nutrients will be gone by next spring as they will rot and decay over the winter. The snow and/or rain will leach out most of the nutrients in a few months. Any grasses that are alive after the tilling will be stronger and harder to kill next spring. I would concentrate on killing the grass and its root system first this fall so you can start with a clean slate in the spring.

    However, you can work on soil improvement this fall. Kill the grass, till it a few times and see what you have. You may need to add sand, clay, loam, certain types of compost, etc... depending on the soil type to improve its ability to hold water or drain water, depending on the case. Take some soil samples to your local county extension agent. They should be able to analyze it and tell you what to add to improve it.
    I did spray with Round Up 2 weeks ago and everything is nice and dead now. My intention is to not rework the ground in the spring other than a light harrowing so I would just assume work in everything this fall.

    I may side/top dress the rows in the garden next summer with more if I have time and then go to a no till garden possibly.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking." George Patton

  8. #8
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    Definitely get at least the ph tested or do it yourself with a home soil test kit.

    1" of compost won't even be noticeable after you till it in. This is a new garden I would go 4-5" and till it in. If your garden is not in an area where winter winds will blow it all away I have put down 4-5" in the fall and just left it on top. This suppresses all the early spring weeds and grasses. Then give it a till and lay out your rows a week or so before you are ready to plant. You could even plant right through it if doing transplants. Once the plants are up and doing good I go back and sidedress slow release fertilizer and compost 2" or so thick around the plants to help suppress weeds close to the plants and help hold moisture. Eventually the weeds do punch through but your plants get a good headstart. The more compost in your soil the better the tithe and the easier it is to weed

  9. #9
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    Kubota L210

    Default Re: How much compost?

    I get city compost, too. It is mainly composted yard waste, with some shredded pallets included. It typically tests very low for nitrogen, but my interest is in the tilth it gives to my soil when I get enough tilled in. I have soil with good nutrient value, as determined by soil analysis, but it is too clay-like in consistency. It dries like concrete after heavy rains. The compost is ideal for improving that aspect of the soil. I get it by the pickup load, and I use a whole load to amend the soil in about 2-3 raised 4x24 foot beds. After a year or so I need to add another batch to bring the soil level back up after it settles and the compost is incorporated. For my purposes, I wish I had just ordered a full dump truck load of compost. You can never have too much! Even though the city says in their description that it is intended as a soil amendment, rather than a growth medium, one flower bed I made for the wife was just pure compost about 0.5-1.5 feet deep to which I added a couple handfuls of 13 13 13 fertilizer. The flowers darn near took over the house.

    Chuck

  10. #10
    Super Member bp fick's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much compost?

    The only consternation I have about leaving a layer of anything on top for the winter is the slowing of soil temps in spring. Wisconsin, like the NE or Michigan where I live is a bit slow to warm up in spring. This ain't Kentucky or even Southern IL or Ohio.

    We don't want an insulator blanket or sun shield on it. We need to actually furrow up our ground. This accomplishes a couple of things. It doubles the amount of freeze/thaw cycle, a good thing if there is any clay at all. It more than doubles the surface area allowing for more area of sun exposure to the soil in April and May. Think of this as the same principle as raised bed gardening. Deep valleys and high furrows will allow for up 2 weeks earlier produce setting and thus, picking.

    I know this goes beyond the question asked, but it reinforces the need to do your supplementing in fall. Get it tilled and get it furrowed up for the winter. Your veggies will love you for it next July.
    BP


    "Some chickens, some gardens and a Kubota."

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