Grumpians, everyone wants to do their part in helping to save the planet. That includes turning garden waste into compost to keep it out of landfills. But how do you know when the compost is ready to go into the garden? Play this informative video and find out!
Well, I hope that answered all your questions.
On a related note note, Shelly from Buffalo, Wyoming writes: "Last year I had wonderful beets, carrots, onions, beans, zucs, and corn. My garden has not grown well this year. My husband added several bags of tree leaves to it this spring. I think it has too much acid, I don’t know what kind of leaves he used. How do I correct this?"
Grumpy replies: Greetings Shelly, oh ye of very cold winters and beautiful mountains.
The Grump has spent little time in your state, but what time he has, he has thoroughly enjoyed.
Good gardening in Wyoming, as it does in every state, starts with good soil. I think your soil is naturally alkaline, so I doubt adding a few bags of leaves to it would turn it acid. It might not cause any reaction at all. Essentially, what you have to do is build good soil and your plants should thrive. Work in as much organic matter -- chopped leaves, peat moss, composted manure, grass clippings, ground bark, and garden compost -- as you can. It's nearly impossible to add too much, so do this every year. Organic matter loosens soil, improves aeration and drainage, and stores and provides nutrients. It can also be quite tasty, as you've just seen.
Here's another fascinating question about enriching soil from Brandy in the Texas Hill Country:
"I have a circular area about 8 foot in diameter that I want to raise by tilling in additional native soil that I already have available and then adding 8 inches of organic compost. I would also like to add cottonseed meal, lava sand, and earthworm castings (at their recommended rates on pkg.) Is this too much organic fertilizer? I intend on seeding this bed with annual and perennial seeds that grow well in my area, then possibly adding one or two small perennials plants to the bed as well. My local nursery suggested using "Plant-tone" as an organic, all-purpose plant food. Is all of this too much??"
Grumpy repIies: think your plan is OK as long as you till in everything well. Plant-tone is a good, slow-release, organic fertilizer, as are cottonseed meal and worm castings. Lava sand, however, is not organic nor is it a fertilizer. It is at most a soil conditioner. Contrary to what some people in Texas claim, it is not a miracle additive, does not store or release any nutrients, and does not add any magical qualities to the soil. Those who claim it does are dealing in pseudoscience, the same kind of stuff you see in informercials on TV. Here's an interesting commentary on it: http://froebuck.home.texas.net/toppage8.htm. I'm not saying don't use it. Just don't fall for the hype. Organic matter will do much more for your plants than lava sand.