It’s time for spring garden preparation! Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” I think ole Ben (all his friends call him Ben) was talking about gardening. Ok, I know it goes for other things as well, but for now its spring gardens. Soil, sun, fertilizer and water is what’s needed to grow vegetables. Of these four essential we have ultimate control of two; soil and fertilizer.
The most common amendment is compost. Compost is decomposing organic matter. If it’s done decomposing it’s called potting soil. The most common ingredients in commercial compost are leaves, grass, tree and shrub trimmings, and agricultural crop stubble. Depending on where you get compost, you might find plywood, 2x4s, fence and furniture pieces. If you make your own you can add any kitchen scraps you would be willing to put in the garbage disposal.
Most bagged compost is in a 2 cubic foot or 40# bag (1CF). Bulk compost is sold loose by the yard or other volume measurement. So how much do you need? For flatbed gardens I look at adding 3 to 4 inches of compost and mixing it in the top 7 to 8 inches of soil. Adding 3 inches to a 100 square foot garden will take 0.9 cubic yards of compost. That’s 13, 2 cubic foot bags or about 26, 1 cubic foot bags. A volume measurement for a 6 foot pick-up bed is 2 cubic yards. How much material (compost, top soil, etc.) it will hold depends on its weight. The fine folks at Living Earth Technologies can help you with bulk material. I have found it beneficial to use more than one type of compost to a vegetable garden.
For raised-bed gardens I double the amount of compost. I also add about 25% bagged topsoil (about 70% sandy loam and 30% fine compost). Till, fork or shovel the mix in with the top 3 to 4 inches of our native soil.
And here comes the shameless plugs. We sell 4 types of compost, top soil, and a multitude of fertilizers along with hardwood and cedar mulch.