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Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Posted by angela.t Utah (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 6, 12 at 1:14

Hey ya'll! I have a question for all you soil experts. ^_^ I'm new to the whole gardening experience, and I think that soil is probably the most confusing part! lol

So here's a little about the project I'm doing. I'm doing four 4' by 8' raised beds, probably 10"-11" deep. I'm only going to be growing vegetables in them, quite a bit being tomatoes.

I talked to probably 6-7 different nurseries on the phone, and even the local extension agent about the kind of soil I should get. I get the prices and make-up of each company's soil, and they all say they have the best soil, it's the only way to grow veggies, yada yada. I suppose since they're trying to sell a product, it's to be expected. ;)

I've gone to six different places (four nurseries), to see and feel their soil. I've found one company that has the best topsoil I've seen out of all the places, and an amazing horse manure compost blended with fine bark, as well. My question to you is this: for what I want to do, veggies, in raised beds...
1.)Could I grow veggies in a good topsoil and
compost/fine bark mix if I put a general slow
release fertilizer in it as well? (don't worry,
hoping to find an organic one. :) )
2.)If so, what would be the best topsoil/compost
ratio?

P.S-I know things like peat moss are good for holding moisture in and what not, but we pay one price for unlimited "irrigation" water. I don't want to leave the fish high and dry, but at the same time, I don't have to worry about the water retention properties of my soil, say, as much as other people around the country might.

I look forward to hearing back, as I need to place my order super soon! Hopefully with ya'lls help I can put in my order this week! ^_^


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Sounds like you are on top of it Angela, Personally I wouldn't use peat moss, it doesn't add any value to your beds. I would do #1 as you proposed, and I would mix it totally together @ 50% each, the compost part will need to be topped off every year, Let's see some pics ;-)

4-18-2010

4-18-2010

4-18-2010


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

The soil everyone wishes they had, loam, is made up of about 45 percent sand, 25 percent, silt, 25 percent clay and 5 percent organic matter. Loam and topsoil are not the same thing since Loam is not available everywhere.
I have had very good results getting the level of organic matter up around 6 to 8 percent while I have seen soils with 20 percent organic matter that held too much moisture.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

As kimmsr said, the ideal is as close to the percentage of components he listed as it is possible to get, but you won't know that without some kind of analysis of each product. If you have some experience, you may be able to get a rough idea of what the result will be just be looking and feeling the soil, but it will be only an approximation. That being said, if your intention is to build your beds taking into consideration only the purchased components, and not the native soils (less than ideal, IMO), then 1 or 2 bags of compost for each 10 bags of "soil" should give you a good guesstimate of how to begin. You should, preferably, mix the purchased components with your native soil, get a proper analysis from a soil test, and then add the appropriate amendments to achieve the proper nutrient levels, pH, and tilth for optimum veggie production.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi Angela,
If those are the only two components you can get ,I would go with my percentage 50/50 thoroughly mixed, the organic part of the mixture will do lots to benefit the mineral part, but it dissipates so fast , hence the need to "top off" the beds with compost, when shrinkage occurs.
If you have access to other components , then it would be best (IMHO) to have a mixture of Decomposed Granite, Pumice, Clay/Clayish Soil, and Compost, 25 % each ..Thoroughly mixed up, and then topped off with compost as needed from here on out...


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.USA (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 6, 12 at 13:01

Angela, I also put 25% to 35% compost & crashed leaves in my raised beds.
This is because I grow some beds for four seasons & want to have the food the plants need.
A big plus is that I have more then one compost pile, so I can afford to add more when I plant the next season crop.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi, I am new to this forum but came here because of issues I have with a raised bed I created. I found out it is definitely possible to have too much compost and organic matter. I strongly recommend a soil test as soon as you can after finishing the bed. In my case, I brought in purchased compost since I live alone and cannot create enough for a garden myself. I initially brought in enough to partially fill the bed and tilled it into the existing soil. In the fall I added my dried leaves and after 2-3 years brought in more purchased compost to "replenish" what I assumed was depleting compost. Now I finally got a soil test after about 5 years and found out that I have way too much organic matter and nutrients that are almost all off the charts. I do not feritlize frequently. I am now planning on bringing in top soil and then plan to test again. I also assumed since the native soil is acidic I might need to add some lime, which I am glad I didn't since the soil test revealed a alkaline soil with a pH of 7.5! So with purchased composts and soils you really don't know where the components come from, if the pH is appropriate for what you want to grow and how rich it is, making soil testing even more important. Just thought I would share my recent lesson. :)


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi Sue,
I'm really trying not to be argumentative, but every circumstance is different, your situation didn't work for you, but there are so many variables, you simply can't make a blanket statement that "definitely possible to have too much compost and organic matter."... I don't know your circumstances, how you built your beds, what you put in them etc etc
But last year I decided to answer this specific question (because I create so much compost), I decided to plant directly into pure compost (100% organic matter), and I grew :

365 lbs of Butternut Squash
111 lbs of Tomatoes
7 lbs of Potatoes
68 lbs of Zucchini
42 lbs of Cucumbers
123 lbs of Melons

That is all grown not only in Pure Compost but the Compost was sitting on a blue tarp (I didn't want it intermingling with my gravel that was below it.

So.. I will concede it is not "optimum" to use 100% pure Compost... it is do-able , with absolutely NO drawbacks, that I could see....

So.. extrapolating from that experiment, adding any other component just makes your growing medium that much better, more durable, better water retention, better able to provide structure and an environment for a more sustainable, gardening bed.

Which again my medium works so wonderfully:
25% Clay
25% Compost
25% Pumice
25% Decomposed Granite

5-12-2011

Photobucket

6-26-2011

7-8-2011

7-8-2011

7-17-2011...

8-6-2011

8-14-2011


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Wow, I thought I was clear that this hole thing was new to me. The idea that it is possible to have too much compost came from the UCONN Agricultural Soil Analysis lab and I was just passing on. Obviously you disagree with them. I don't have enough knowledge in this area to do that and keep a straight face. I did post my my soil analysis results in another post and what they said. I also know in my case lush green green growth is not what I am after, personally, but rather productive healthy plants. I have been growing in this bed for 5 years so I know its "possible". I don't believe I said it wasn't. I just wanted to share some results and recommendations that surprised me and advocate for getting a soil test since the results are not always what you expect.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

I am in agreement with Jon here, but it is because of the crops he is growing. Heavy feeders with rather tolerant growth habits - squashes and tomatoes come first to mind, but all of the crops he mentions fall into that category - will thrive in soils with very high OM readings, and are a way to reduce those percentages without the toil and expense of adding still more inputs. More sensitive crops may not thrive, because of excess nutrients, less-than-ideal pH, or high water retention. It is a more cost efficient practice to reduce excess by producing a crop that will make use of it, rather than buying something to create the same effect. I'm not aware of a quick crop-based method of changing soil pH, but adjusting nutrient or moisture levels by using the appropriate crop or practice is a relatively easy thing to manage.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Just curious now, but if you are purchasing components to make a new raised bed, which I is what I thought this thread is about, why would you not try to purchase what is an "optimum" mixture for what you want to grow? If " I will concede it is not "optimum" to use 100% pure Compost... it is do-able , with absolutely NO drawbacks" then I just don't understand. Doesn't optimum mean "absolutely no drawbacks" and how can something be not optimum but have absolutely no drawbacks? I know I am not knowledgeable on this issue but the semantics are confusing me. Since I said it was "possible" to have too much compost, which is what I was told from my soil sample, and I am not saying I know what John is growing or if he has too much for his situation, what did I say that was wrong? I did not say anyone DOES have too much, just that it is "possible" to have too much, which I got from a reliable source, and yet simply passing this along I got in trouble. I think I better stick to the other forums. I got in trouble much to fast here, lol. John I don't know you, certainly am not looking for an argument, and have no idea if your compost/soil is optimum for you or not, and did not mean to imply that at all. I still think soil testing is a good idea nd wish I had done it sooner. If that is controversial, I am sorry.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Wow Sue, I really apologize, I wasn't trying to upset you, and I appreciate the fact that you have come to these forums and are participating, people come and people go around here and it is always nice to see a fresh face. ;-)

1. I am not the "boss" around here ( your vote counts just as much as mine does ;-)

2. If I ever disagree with someone, It is just my opinion, based on actual work I have seen, and because everyone has different parameters, what worked for me, may not even work for someone else.

3. So..for all of my opinions...
when in doubt..throw it out !

4. I wouldn't necessarily argue with "UCONN Agricultural Soil Analysis lab", this is one of the parameters that I was referring too. They came to their conclusions based on the soil sample you sent them. I see nothing wrong in what they did.

5. Some of the best Gardeners on this Forum (Bill, for one) advocate getting a soil sample and then being able to know scientifically how to properly respond to an issue/issues.
I've never gotten one before ,I'm from the "if it ain't broke,don't fix it school". But.. if I were to have sent ""UCONN Agricultural Soil Analysis lab" a sample of my "Compost on a blue tarp" and told them I wanted to be able to grow:
365 lbs of Butternut Squash
111 lbs of Tomatoes
7 lbs of Potatoes
68 lbs of Zucchini
42 lbs of Cucumbers
123 lbs of Melons

and the lab report came back and said, NO, it can't be done, you have 100% organic material, it won't work.
Yeah, at this point, in hindsight, I could probably argue that point ,with a straight face.

You wrote: "I also know in my case lush green green growth is not what I am after, personally, but rather productive healthy plants"

I'm not sure what point you are making, but I grew vegetables ,a lot of them, yes, they were green, and healthy, but that fact didn't preclude lots and lots of Vegetables.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi Sue,
Yeah.. Sorry about that ...
You wrote "If " I will concede it is not "optimum" to use 100% pure Compost... it is do-able , with absolutely NO drawbacks" then I just don't understand. Doesn't optimum mean "absolutely no drawbacks" and how can something be not optimum but have absolutely no drawbacks?

AS I wrote that I also was thinking that I should elaborate on what I meant and what I did not mean, but.. I am so lazy , and just wanted to "nutshell" it ;-)

Sorry, what I meant was,
Not optimum : It would be best to have all of my soil recipe in the medium (like my other beds), but this was simply a "storage area " for my compost,and I never intended to plant in it, but I couldn't stand to see it just sit there and do nothing,

Absolutely no drawbacks: what I meant was , ZERO...ILL Effects on the plants that grew there.


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Bill's the Man ! Bring on the Book ;-)

Hi Bill,
You wrote " and are a way to reduce those percentages without the toil and expense of adding still more inputs. More sensitive crops may not thrive, because of excess nutrients, less-than-ideal pH, or high water retention. It is a more cost efficient practice to reduce excess by producing a crop that will make use of it, rather than buying something to create the same effect. I'm not aware of a quick crop-based method of changing soil pH, but adjusting nutrient or moisture levels by using the appropriate crop or practice is a relatively easy thing to manage."

Man, will you hurry up with that book you are writing, you are awesome man, that was a eloquent way of teaching us all very important data, that would be an excellent way of extracting excess OM from soils... I learn something new everyday ;-)


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

But what if you don't WANT to grow that crop, lol? I don't know about the original poster, but I just wanna grow tomatoes, peppers and a few herbs, lol! It seems backwards to me as a home gardener to test soil and grow what you need to correct the soil instead of growing what you need for food. It seems more geared to farming for profit than home gardening. If you are starting a new bed, why not create the soil mix you need to grow what you want? I don't mean to be argumentative, I know little about this and I am trying to learn. Are many people here commercial farmers as opposed to home gardeners?


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

that is exactly where the issue arises, Sue. Tomatoes aren't a particularly fussy plant, they will grow in a wide range of conditions provided nutrients are adequate, and are often among the first "volunteers" in a compost pile. Optimal nutrients for tomatoes will change over the season, encouraging vegetative growth early in the summer, and fruit production later on. Basil is a little more fussy about where it sticks its' feet, and carrots have different needs than herbs, so what is optimal for one crop may be less so for another. Because of this, soil-test recommendations are necessarily based on an arbitrary average - UCONN will provide parameters for individual crops, but that will get expensive real fast, for them and you, and you will be chasing different results for different crops... you definitely DON'T want basil to go to seed, but you do want tomatoes to do so.

Now all this being said, I DO grow commercially, so my practices are different than what a gardener on a smaller scale would do. If I have an area of ground that is wetter, or higher in P or K than another, it may be easier for me to change a crop than to change the soil. It is a lot easier to properly amend a 4' x 8' bed than 40,000 square feet, or to optimize one bed for peppers and tomatoes, which are fairly heavy feeders that appreciate steady moisture and nutrients that favor fruiting, and another bed for basil, which will taste better with lower nutrients over all and less Potassium in particular. Other participants here are much smaller scale gardeners, but no less knowledgeable (and many much more so), who will share their own opinions, often differing from mine, but it rarely devolves from discussion to argument.

It's complicated, and the assortment of voices and opinions can sometimes seem cacophonous, but for the most part, it's well intentioned on all sides. You'll soon find the voices that best resonate with your style and needs. I hope this doesn't confuse things further... be patient with us.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Well now that explains a lot. :) Thank you.

I did not know that about basil and I love basil so I will put what you told me to good use. :) I believe my herb garden which is small and outside my back door, and tests very high in nutrients also, could benefit from a little less. I will be sure not to add fertilizer there, and I may add some top soil and or sand to get it down a little.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Wow! I didn't expect so many posts so fast! You guys are awesome! :D

I saw a couple of you ask why it was that, "you don't just start with the optimum soil levels". I don't know if you were directing it to me or not, but I'll tell ya.

I'd LOVE to put Miller's Mix(a great combo of soil in Utah) or some other super high quality stuff in my boxes, but my budget just doesn't allow for that right now. My budget for our WHOLE yard AND my gardening stuff has just been put down from $1,000 to $700(we moved money around in hopes to re-carpet downstairs. lol). Since the yard will need stump grinding, I had to buy the lumber to make my boxes(which I just finished today! ^_^), plants, trees for around the yard, etc., I don't have the money to buy the good soil. That stuff's anywhere from $80-$125 on average for a cu. yrd. out here. And since I need 4 cu. yrds. of soil just for my boxes, not including compost for the soil where I'm gonna put some berry bushes....how much the good soil would cost just can't happen. Plus, if I did do it and my husband found out I paid about $500 for "just soil", even though he's only 26, I'm pretty sure he'd have a heart attack. ;)

By what I've been reading here, maybe that mix the guy does of 60%/40% wouldn't be a bad idea. I thought too that perhaps in the future I would put the awesome soil in the beds, but one at a time to be easier on the wallet. I dunno. I guess we'll see. Heck, who knows? Maybe that ratio will work out awesome for the stuff I wanna grow! :D Cool part is that, by what I read from a few of you, squash, tomatoes, and peppers aren't very fussy, which are some of the more important and exciting things I'm gonna grow! ^_^ (my priorities being the first two).

Well thank ya'll so much for caring to answer my question. I know I've read a lot on this forum about soil ratios, but of course, no one ever asked the EXACT question that I needed answered. ;)


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Beds started in very rocky clay subsoil ~ 1st year garden.

This post was edited by Stormygale on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 23:20


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

How do you post multiple photographs?

This post was edited by Stormygale on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 23:39


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

I have lived with Utah clay soils for 40+ years; my suggestions are:

Soak, wait 12 hours, till your soil to a depth of at least 8". The soil must be fine and crumbly.

Obtain weed free horse / cow manure compost (if shredded, it will look like aged sawdust). I can give sources in SL County for your (double high) loaded pickup for $5 ~ aged 1 year.

Cover the area with compost 6-8" deep.

Till thoroughly, water normally, it will shrink after planting. You have created 'topsoil' equal to or better than that normally delivered from local nurseries.

To maintain the garden area, till spring and fall and cover with fresh 2" aged compost as mulch; your shoes and knees will stay much cleaner; very few easy to pull weeds.

Your first year will be great and by the end of the second year, you will have the best loamy soil & garden in the neighborhood, filled with all the necessary nutrients.

Organic loam makes garden soil excellent; it holds water superbly.

Dried pulverized clay is the ammendment used for mineral depleted soils.

Picture are beds started in very very very rocky clay subsoil; tiller penetration less than 2" ~ a 1st year garden. Corn 7' high, planted 4" apart (16x density) in 2 week rotations.

This was the worst rocky clay subsoil I have ever used to make raised beds. After soaking, the tiller would not go deeper than 2". Finally gave up tilling and using pickaxe. Tilled compost in, planted, mulched 2" with remaining compost.

This post was edited by Stormygale on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 23:34


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

For those that wish to be able to use a simple test to determine whether the soil they are looking at is what they want this is as simple as you can get, although it does require 24 hours.
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.
In reality you should be most concerned about what that top material is then what the rest of the jar contains.
The University of Connecticut is correct that you can get too much organic matter in your soil since too much OM can hold too much moisture in that soil and cause more plant problems than it would solve. Why is perlite or vermiculite added to potting soils?

This post was edited by kimmsr on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 7:50


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

When discussing soil organic matter fractions or percentages it is critical to distinguish what is being reported or discussed. Is it volume percent or weight percent that is being discussed? Soil labs and soil scientists commonly report and discuss soil fractions on a dry weight basis. That would include the familiar recommendations for soil OM in the range of 5-10%, as well as lab reported test results of organic matter. That is a weight fraction, based upon oven dried weights.

The bulk density of soils and organic materials is commonly reported on a dry weight basis. A fairly typical, average mineral soil bulk density is ~ 2600 lbs/cubic yard.

The typical bulk density, again dry weight basis, for common soil organic amendments (e.g. compost) is ~ 1,000 lbs per cubic yard. The typical OM bulk density is only ~40% of that of a baseline mineral soil, and the range can be about 25% to 50%.

As an example, consider the johnhughes 25% compost number as a volume fraction - mix 1 yard of compost (dry bulk density 1,000 lbs/yard) with 3 yards of mineral soil (dry bulk density 2600 lbs/yard) to produce 4 yards of soil, total weight 8800lbs. Assume everything is at a comparable moisture level. While the mix fraction was 25% by volume, the weight fraction will be ~ 11%, and that is what a soil lab test of OM would ideally report.

As a general rule-of-thumb for soil mixtures, the net weight fraction (percent) of organic matter will be ~ 1/2 of the volume fraction, again assuming similar moisture levels for the mineral and organic phases. Hence the familiar 5-10% soil OM recommendation translates to 10-20 % soil OM by volume. So if you wanted to increase soil OM by 7.5% (weight) you would add 15% OM by volume, or nearly 1-inch of OM on top then mixed into 6 inches of underlying soil. That's not allowing for the issues associated with testing for OM.

This post was edited by TXEB on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 0:32


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi, I have a question to ask. I have stripped the topsoil (which is loam and sandy and has mulch, dried leaves, small green plants and grass) from the slope/hill behind my house. Can I start planting vegetables in it? Do I have to sift it? I have made 5 fresh piles of compost, 1 few months old and have parts of dried leaves visible, I guess its not ready to be used. I hope to hear a response. Thanks.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi Serina. From your post it's not very clear what you would be planting in. Did you move this topsoil from the slope to somewhere else? I am a bit concerned about removing topsoil from a slope. The remaining subsoil may not support vegetation, and then you may have an erosion problem.

Generally, improving the soil you have is a more sustainable practice than moving it from somewhere else. What kind of soil do you have? Sand, silt, clay? Does it have much organic matter? What are the typical pH and nutrient levels in your area?

Whether any soil is ready to plant in, all depends on the quality of the soil and what you plan to grow. Do you know any other gardeners in the area? How do they grow successfully?

If you are in fact making a new bed with soil moved from somewhere else, you have an opportunity to improve the soil even if you don't have finished compost. You can layer compost ingredients (a good mix of browns and greens) between layers of soil.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Hi Serina:
You should be able to grow vegetables in the topsoil that was already growing plants and grass. It does not need to be sifted, but you should remove all growing vegetation (put it in your compost pile) to reduce weeds.

Your compost can be mixed in the topsoil when it is broken down into crumbly humus (it will go through a 1 cm screen). Remember to turn (mix) the compost piles every week or month; it should be ready for use when you plant your next garden vegetables in 3 to 6 months. Because of your rainfall and tropical climate, it should compost quickly.

I love the improvement that my composted dead garden plants make to my garden soil!

This post was edited by Stormygale on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 0:58


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

  • Posted by flo9 none (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 8, 13 at 19:46

Just to share my experiences... I'm a newbie gardener.... last year I bought MANY big bags of miracle grow Organic soil.. cost me a fortune. This year not having much space someone at Lowes told me quite a few people just buy top soil for their garden. So I gave it try... I just added some fertilizer made by miracle grow - Organic choice and all of my tomatoes etc. grew better than last year... and also considering it rained nearly everyday for 4 months and barely any sun.
Maybe I was lucky... but seems I hear a lot of myths on soil. However, I am going to start making my own compost to save on buying soil and nutrients in future and helping the environment. I'm looking forward to next year seeing how well it does adding compost to top soil. Potting soil cost almost double.. cheap stuff.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

toxcrusadr 5 - Its a huge slope say about 2 to 3 acres, I stripped the topsoil that is full of organic matters, such as dried leaves, grass and small green plants and intend to fill in my raised beds in my backyard to grow vegetables and flowers, just like the 4 x 4 raised beds but mine will be in rows . The soil is loamy, sandy with no clay and dark brown and black color. Should I just leave the 1/3 organic matters to decomposed in the pile? I have already stripped 7 piles.
Stormygale - Thanks for the info.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

About every Agricultural school, State University connected with the USDA's Cooperative Extension Service, will tell you that optimal levels of organic matter in soils is between 3 and 5 percent. My experience tells me that between 6 and 8 percent is optimal. Most people arrive at that 50 percent level most likely because they mix one shovel full of soil with one shovel full of compost or other form of organic matter and think they have a 50/50 mix.


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

Serina:
I have grown in a 50/50 mix (6") of 1 year old composted horse manure with clay soil in a first year garden. The garden soil mix appeared to have too much manure, it was very loose and too areated. It did fine, but the next year it had an additional 25% (2" that was placed on top for mulch) of more manure tilled in for the fall and the same in the spring. That soil became more humic as the manure decomposed and made the soil pretty much perfect for growing vegetables. The first year production was good, but the second and succeeding year's production was better.

After fourty years of working with farmers and gardening, I grew a first year garden this year with only 1 to 2 inches of soil and 4 inches of composted horse manure mixed together. Underlying the garden are solid large compacted rocks. Each transplant had a small handful of vermicompost (worm castings) underneath. The garden did very well and should do even better in the coming years as more compost is added.

Your leaves, organic matter and soil mix will do just fine in your raised beds. There should already be worms, castings and cocoons in your mix to make it even better. Adding organic matter such as leaves around your plants will reduce weed growth and improve your garden soil when you mix it into the soil after each harvest. Don't worry about exact ratios; your garden will do fine!

After several years your soil will stabilize and you can take a soil sample for analysis if Brunei has that service. If your garden grows well and you notice no problems I would not worry about testing. Organic material has a way of buffering a garden to give optimum results. ~ Just add more compost whenever it is available. I wish you the best in this amazing hobby that you are pursuing!

This post was edited by Stormygale on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 17:11


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RE: Topsoil-compost ratio, newbie question! :)

flo9 - Once your soil is in pretty good shape there is not much of a need to add major stuff to it. You only need to do maintenance - a little compost for example - to maintain the organic matter level. I am not surprised that your second year garden did just fine without spending a fortune on MG Garden Soil. :-]

Serina: That sounds like very nice soil. If it is sandy and loamy it may drain very fast in a raised bed and require a lot of water. I'm not sure how to advise you on what to do here, but it sounds like the soil is already fairly rich, so composting your organic matter it for addition to the soil later would probably be fine.


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