To Add or Not to Add – Compost

Q.  I’ve been told to add lots of compost to my soil in the fall.  Is this important – or even a good idea?

A.  My raised beds, which we like to call Grow-Beds, or Soil-Beds, do not have any added compost.  We teach and demonstrate that you can have a great garden in any soil with no soil amendments, and it’s been proven in gardens all over the world.

HOWEVER, If you have materials that are clean and free of weeds, bugs, and diseases, it is a good idea to incorporate organic materials into your soil.  And before winter is the ideal time to do it, so they will have time to decompose thoroughly before you plant.  BUT NEVER PUT MATERIALS – COMPOSTED OR OTHERWISE – INTO YOUR GARDEN UNLESS THEY FIT THIS CRITERIA.  DOING SO WILL CAUSE YOU MANY MORE PROBLEMS THAN THE BENEFIT YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM IMPROVED SOIL TILTH AND MAYBE A LITTLE ADDED NUTRITION.

IF YOU ARE USING CONTAINERS, WHICH WE LIKE TO CALL GROW-BOXES DO NOT USE COMPOST OR SOIL AT ALL!!  Our experience has not been good with having people use their existing soil, especially mixed with compost, for filling their Grow-Boxes.  Aside from the problems of the soil itself, such as too much clay, etc., etc., often there are seeds, diseases and/or pests in the soil which are introduced into the mix.

In addition, compost is often an additional problem – with seeds, pests, and diseases from that source – since most people don’t know how or don’t take the trouble to compost with sufficient heat to kill those things.

It’s for these reasons that we always strongly encourage people to obtain clean, fresh materials such as sawdust, peatmoss, etc. and sand for their container gardens.