Make the most of your compost

Make the most of your compost

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Whether you're planning a new flower or vegetable garden from scratch or replanting in the fall, amending your soil with compost is a great way to prepare. In the Williamsburg, VA area, you want to apply amendments such as compost in the autumn so that freezing and thawing will work them into the soil better, sending nutrients deeper.

When to amend your soil

Generally, apply compost about a month before planting. Apply in the fall if the compost is still fibrous, so that it will break down well enough by planting time. If your compost is ready in the fall, cover it and store in a protected place. Water any active compost pile from time to time.

How to amend your soil

To give your soil a boost, spread a 2-inch to 4-inch layer of aged manure, compost, or other decayed plant matter on top of the soil and dig it in. A rotary tiller can help, but a shovel and garden fork will also do the job splendidly. Adding amendments is best done in dry weather — wet soil can clump and thereby remove much-needed air spaces.

Meanwhile, how do you know that your compost is “good”?

You may not realize that the healthiest of compost piles is well balanced in terms of nitrogen and carbon materials. The easiest way of sniffing out the answer is, well, by sniffing. Does your compost have an ammonia-like smell?  Could be that your compost is too rich in nitrogen, the result of bacteria breaking down green material. Just balance it out with “brown” material – straw, newspapers, and brown leaves. The brown material is high in carbon and will balance the nitrogen and let in more air, which encourages microbes to create less odorous forms of nitrogen.

A tip: shred materials before adding to compost.

Have a question about compost or anything else lawn or garden-wise? You could win a free baseball cap simply by asking a great question! We may include your question in an upcoming newsletter or here on the web site.

Hertzler & George

 is a design, build and maintenance firm in Williamsburg, Virginia dedicated to the development of extraordinary gardens and properties.

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Hertzler & George

GreenGuard Associates, Inc

PO Box 457

Williamsburg, VA 23187-0457

tel: (757) 229-9668

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