Spring is in the air! New seed catalogs are arriving daily, trees are blooming, perennials are breaking through the warming earth and insects are abuzz. And, after months and months of being broken down by microbes and fed upon by worms, kitchen scraps and yard debris has turned in to rich compost in our composting bins. So, my neighbor asks, “I’ve made compost, now what?”.
Now it’s time to enrich vegetable beds to prepare them for planting. The finished compost should be a rich brown color and be loose and fall apart easily.
Soil science is much too complex to get into for this post but, what vegetable gardens need to produce healthy plants is soil that is filled with organic nutrients. Our soils here in the Northwest are typically clay with small amounts of sand and silt. Adding organic matter like compost creates the perfect medium for high yielding vegetable crops. Compost provides a balanced amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium for seeds to germinate quickly and for plants to thrive.
I lay 2″ to 3″ of compost over the vegetable bed and gently work into the existing soil with a spade. Of course, if you have a much larger area a small tiller is great for getting this job done.
Rake the top to remove and larger clumps of material or larger twigs that did not decompose. Then go over the area again with a rake to smooth. The soil can be planted right away.