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adding compost to the garden

Hi I am new to this so bare with me if I sound ignorant. When and how do you add compost to your garden as it is growing. I have my first garden and I added fully composted horse manure with shavings that has been rotted down for a years to the ground and tilled it in before I planted my garden. Do you put the compost down the middles and till it in or what? Thanks.

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

I would not usually till in a garden once everything is growing- you don't want to disturb roots or mess up your soil biology. I usually mulch to hold moisture and keep the weeds down and tilling would ruin all your mulching. To add compost later after planting, you can turn it in just a little bit with a trowel, or you can just put it on top of the ground (called top dressing) and let it gradually sink in. Or you can put it in a bucket of water and let it soak and turn into compost tea and just pour it on.

Gardener Don
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 10:05 am
Location: Southern Illinois, zone 5b

I agree with Rainbow. I normally till my compost into the garden in the fall and topdress after everything is planted. Hang in there with the horse manure composted well. It is great for the garden and the worms. I have been building up my garden for 8 years and it is coming along great. Compost just cannot hurt the garden. By the way, after I plant my beans, corn, etc; I put about 1" of compost on top of the row. This will keep the soil moist and allow the plant to sprout through and not break its neck. Best of luck. Don

The Helpful Gardener
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Location: Colchester, CT

I don't till except for the first time I prepare a bed, I topdress after that, simply wiggling a fork in my soil to loosen it but not turn it, and spreading the compost on top...

What happens when you do not disturb the fungal hyphae (long thin strands in the soil of beneficial or benign (for the most part) fungii that act as beams and girders holding the soil open (forest soils, which are highly fungal, are springy and airy because of this). This works in your garden bed as well, and soon you will wonder why you were busting your hump so much.

Repeated tilling breaks up fungal nets and powders the soil, eventually leading to compaction, which leads to anaerobic soil conditions so the bacteria and other animals in the soil die off, and the soil becomes less water retentive, less fertile, and less receptive to plant roots.

So topdressing and a little wiggle of the fork from here on in, and you will be amazed. Take care of your soil, and your soil takes care of your plants.


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