If your soil isn’t up to snuff, your plants will struggle to survive.
But the term “perfect soil” is really kind of an oxymoron, because most soils have either too much clay or too much sand or lack a good nutrient balance.
That’s why I encourage everyone to improve their soil with compost. You can buy bagged or loose compost at garden centers, but making your own is super easy and saves you money. Here’s all you need to do in six steps.1. Build or create a “bin” out of heavy gauge wire or concrete block. It can be of any size, but for most backyards a pair of 4x4x4 bins works great.
2. Use one bin to hold garden and kitchen debris. Leaves, vegetable trimmings, grass clippings (don’t use if you treat your lawn with chemicals), coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. Alternate layers of this “green” material with woody debris such as small tree branches and twigs. Making compost is a lot like making lasagna; you want to alternatively layer dry and wet materials in a stack.3. Once your first bin is filled up, you can add a little compost or compost starter (you can buy it at most garden centers) and water to get the decomposition process off to a good start.
4. Every few weeks use a garden fork to turn the pile over to mix the ingredients. Also, keep the pile slightly moist at all times.5. As the first pile begins to decompose, it will heat up (you might even see it smolder when you turn the pile over). Then you can begin a second pile in the next bin. That way, you’ll have a continuous source of compost forming.
6. Once the first pile has broken down into a rich, black, organic material, you can begin spreading it on your garden.
I like to mulch with compost (a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer around the base of your plants is ideal).
Compost also works as a good fill material whenever you dig a new hole to add plants to your garden.
And, you can add compost to bagged potting soil whenever you’re planting new containers.
Written by Doug Jimerson