“Weathering In” Your Compost

On Monday I talked a little bit about just spading compost around the garden in the fall and letting “weather” do the rest for you. This is actually part of a sustainable practice of gardening called “no-till” gardening. I’ve practiced it for years for many reasons but it’s really a shock when I talk about it to most gardeners, even seasoned gardeners. So I like to bring it up now and again, even if I talk about it in different ways.

By the way, Lee Reich has a whole book on the subject called No Till Gardening if you’re interested.

The more we learn about soil, the more we realize it is best to disturb it as little as possible. Of course, as gardeners, we need to disturb it to plant things. But we don’t need to needlessly or mindlessly disturb it. Soil is literally alive and it’s working for us. The more we disturb it, the more we disrupt the good stuff!

It of course helps that I have heavy wet clay and I know better than to touch it any more than I have to. If I “overwork” my soil, it becomes even nastier than it is (hard though that is to believe!) If I work in it when it’s too wet, I risk doing damage to the soil tilth (although lately, that’s not too much of an issue). You get the idea.

Something that may really get your attention though: even routine disturbance of the soil brings dormant weed seeds to the surface. And who needs more weeds?! I don’t know about you, but it’s a losing battle for me in the garden already. I surely don’t need to make it worse by tilling extra weed seeds up!

So what do I do? Again, as I am constantly “ranting” about on my mulch rants, I don’t drop 6 inches of compost all over the place. That would be counter-productive. A nice inch or two is all you need.  It’s not mulch so it doesn’t have to be spread out evenly and nicely but be sure to get it sort of out of the lumpy blobs and into a quasi-even layer.  Then go in the house and forget about it.

Next spring the garden will be ready for planting and the nutrients will be ready for your plants. And you’ll have one less chore to do. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

4 thoughts on ““Weathering In” Your Compost

  1. James Gielow August 21, 2015 / 4:45 pm

    I’ve just begun getting into the no till method this last season. I do love the less work to be done, but my harvest has been slim pickings this year. I started with a winter cover crop and then layered on some manure and compost. My thought is that maybe I need another season or two for everything to get going.

    The good news is that there have been hardly any weeds in my veggie garden this year! The rest of the yard is a different story altogether. Due to the extreme heat here in SoCal, I have been remiss on my weeding duties. I just can’t stay out there too long these days before I smell bacon frying and realize that it’s my bulbous bald head!

    • gardendaze August 21, 2015 / 4:57 pm

      So sorry to hear about your continuing drought. This is our second summer of drought here but of course our abundance of snow in the winter helps to offset the overall moisture loss. I’ve seen the photos of the California drought –it’s just unreal.

      And while yes, there are very small blessings to be gained and you’ve found one–fewer weeds–please know that I know all gardeners everywhere hope and pray that your ordeal out there ends soon.

      Glad you haven’t lost your sense of humor! Thanks for reading and commenting.


      • James Gielow August 21, 2015 / 5:21 pm

        Thank you for your kind words. And yes, it takes more than post apocalyptic surface of the sun conditions to get me down. And don’t get me wrong, the weeds in my yard seem impervious to the drought. In fact, I have the most weeds I’ve ever had this year. Probably because it’s hard to work outside lately and when the cats away, the weeds will play. But when October rolls around, I’ll have the last laugh! For a few months at least…

  2. gardendaze August 21, 2015 / 5:51 pm

    Well, you have my admiration and my good wishes–as well as my envy for your relatively good weather, drought notwithstanding!


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