Compost Is A Funny Animal

kitchen scraps compost There are many websites and blogs that address the How To make a composter, care and feeding your compost pile. Composting on the cheap, a crash course Or maybe you will like Compost – Natures Treat For Your Garden

Compost is a funny animal
Soil texture, or the way a soil feels, reflects the size of the soil particles. Sandy soils have large soil particles and feel gritty. Clay soils have small soil particles and feel sticky. Both sandy soils and clay soils are a challenge for gardeners. Loam soils have the mixture of different size soil particles.

Amending sandy soils, the goal is to increase the soil’s ability to hold moisture and store nutrients. To achieve this, use organic amendments that are well decomposed, like composts, peat, or aged manures.

Amending clay soils, the goal is to improve soil aggregation, increase porosity and permeability, and improve aeration and drainage. Fibrous amendments like peat, wood chips, tree bark or straw are most effective in this situation.

Use Tables 2 and 3 for more specific recommendations. Because sandy soils have low water retention, choose an amendment with high water retention, like peat, compost or vermiculite. Clay soils have low permeability, so choose an amendment with high permeability, like composted wood chips, composted hardwood bark or perlite. Vermiculite is not a good choice for clay soils because of its high water retention.

Routine application rate for soil amendments.
Site Depth of soil amendment prior to incorporation
(based on an incorporation depth of 6-8 inches)
Plant-based composts and other soil amendments Manure, manure-based compost, biosolids, biosolid-based compost and other soil amendments
One-time application to new landscapes prior to planting trees, shrubs, perennials, and laws. 2-3 inches 1 inch
Annual application to vegetable garden and annual flowerbeds First three years 2-3 inches 1 inch
Fourth year and beyond 1-2 inches 1 inch
Three cubic yards (87 bushel) covers 1,000 square feet approximately 1 inch deep.
Cultivate the soil amendment into the top 6-8 inches of soil. On compacted/clayey soils, anything less may result in a shallow rooting depth predisposing plants to reduced growth, low vigor, and low stress tolerance. Rate should be adjusted if incorporation depth is different.
Plant-based compost are derived solely from plant materials (leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and other yard wastes). Use this application rate for other soil amendments know to be low in salt.
Use this application rate for any soil amendment with maure or biosolids.
Caution Excessive salts are common in many commercially available bagged and bulk products. Use with caution.
Table 2: Permeability and water retention of various soil types.
Soil Texture Permeability Water Retention
Sand high low
Loam medium medium
Silt low high
Clay low high

Table 3: Permeability and water retention of various soil amendments.
Amendment Permeability Water Retention
Peat
Wood chips
Hardwood bark
low-medium
high
high
very high
low-medium
low-medium
Compost
Aged manure
low-medium
low-medium
medium-high
medium
Vermiculite
Perlite
high
high
high
low

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