Thread: Compost FAQs
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Old 02-22-2004, 06:04 PM
yardmonkey yardmonkey is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Posts: 337
Compost Using FAQ - Part 2

Subject: Re: Soil denseness
S. responds further>>>

SM>Thanks for your advice!

SM> I hope your yard can withstand the raising of the soil
level, which will be a net of around three inches when all is
said and done.

SM>Well, that _is_ problematic, actually. The soil level has
already risen over the years to the point that it is roughly
even with the basement window sills.... And of course it is
not a good idea to dig this out, because you want the land to
slope away from the foundation.

In the years when I was an organic landscaper, I was amazed at
the number of homes that had poor drainage! The lousy grading
plans of instant housing builders is criminal in my opinion. I
think that a builder should be liable for lousy drainage for at
least twenty years. They should also be required to post a
bond for remediating lousy drainage.

Homes should be built on elevated platforms and water should
not drain through the neighbor's yard. One friend of mine has
a garage floor that is at the same elevation as the curb.
There is no drainage whatsoever and his basement floods every
time it rains. I had to install a gravel sump and french drain
to help solve his problem.

SM> Just spread the soil/leaf mix over the entire area to be
amended and water thoroughly.

SM>No forking at all?

That's right. Let the worms do the work of mixing.

SM> It is important to keep it *very moist* thereafter,

SM>Yes, I plan to put in some sort of irrigation system. What
do you recommend? Rubber soaker hose? Tyvek soaker hose? Drip

Regular surface irrigation that waters evenly from the top, not
a sub or drip system. Your goal is to water the soil, not just
the plants.

SM> ..It will take over a year, but the worms will eventually
increase in population proportional to the new food level....

SM>Is it worthwhile to buy worms? If so, what kind and from

No. Native soil worms like nightcrawlers live in permanent
burrows which they excavate from youth. They live in these
burrows all their lives, if they leave such as after a severe
downpour, they are homeless and usually die. It is too
difficult for an adult worm to excavate a new burrow network
once they have left. Although the thick mulch layer can give
them a transition zone to live in while they excavate a new
tunnel network, adding worms is largely a waste of money.

I assume that you already have a native worm population. As
such, they will immediately begin reproducing to catch up with
the increased food level. Let them multiply on their own.

If you do add worms, you might add some redworms which are not
native soil worms. They do not have permanent burrows and will
live in the moist surface mulch layer. They compete for food
with the nightcrawlers, however, which is the opposite of your
goal. The redworms will not survive a solid freeze nor will
they burrow or live in a mineral soil.

Mr Compost~~~
Jim~ McNelly
Granite Connection 612-259-0801
* June 5th - Start your own revelation and cut out the middle

Subject: Soil denseness

Donald bemoans the eternal clay: DLH>My garden soil is dense
clay (apparently) and I can't get it to loosen up. I have put
composted stuff in to try to break it up, but it doesn't work.

DLH>Does anyone have any suggestions?

Sure Donald,

It took nature 500 years to make one inch of topsoil. Even
adding 3" of compost and tilling it in 9" deep is only the
start of creating an organic soil that is a suitable habitat to
soil organisms.

If you really want to get the soil enriched, hire a backhoe and
dig out eighteen inches. Mix 1 part compost, well aged and
fully decomposed as that is the most concentrated, with two or
three parts old soil.

Replace and you have an instant soil. At roughly 6" of
compost, that equates to around one cubic yard per 54 square
feet. I would bet that your compost application, if it was
even compost, was fairly light and you are giving up too easily.

Mr Compost~~~

Jim~ McNelly
Granite Connection 612-259-0801
* June 1st - Composters have heaps of fun.
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