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How Much Compost Should I Use?

by Rob
(Huber Heights, Ohio)

I have a garden space that is approximately 150 square feet that I have worked for about 20 years. I use a tiller and turn 20 pounds of 12-12-12 inorganic fertilizer into the space in the spring and 40 pounds of lime in during the fall.

Throughout the season, I use MiracleGro. I have never used compost. However, I have been doing some research this season and intend to turn compost into the space this spring. I will then use Espoma brand organic fertilizer through the season. Perhaps, I’ll start my own compost pile next fall but until then, what is the best compost to buy and how much should I use?

Thanks very much!

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Mar 02, 2012
Where to Buy Compost in Ohio
by: Dave

Hi Rob,

It was great to read your gardening history. Thanks for sharing that with us. It seems that your mindset towards the way in which you manage your garden is shifting, which is really neat to observe, especially after 20 years of doing the same thing.

I have to ask, why now? Why switch to a more organic-based type of management after 20 years of other practices? Was there a specific trigger that initiated this switch?

As per your questions…

Before adding any compost or additional fertilizer (organic or not), I would highly recommend taking a soil test and sending it to Logan Labs or International Ag Labs. After 20 years of adding fertilizer upon fertilizer, I wouldn’t be surprised if your soils had some mineral excesses and deficiencies. For $16 you can have a much better picture of what’s going on in your soils and act accordingly.

If you decide to use Logan, let me know and I’ll send you a form to get 20% off their basic soil test (which is all you need). Please note, I get absolutely nothing out of this referral, other than the fact that I know you’re using a trusted lab. If you would like, you can send me your soil test results and I can help you interpret them and make a few recommendations.

If soil testing is too much for you, I’d recommend the following:

Apply 2″ of compost in the spring and then another 2″ of compost in the fall. Work this compost into the top 4-6″ of your garden soil. For your 150 square foot bed, you’ll want to order and apply one cubic yard of compost in the spring and another yard in the fall.

leaf compost ohio

As for where to buy your compost near Huber Heights, Ohio, I recommend the following supplier:

Phillips Companies
Beavercreek, OH

A word of caution – You have a very large biosolids processing plant near you (Synagro), so please please PLEASE be sure you ask if your compost contains biosolids prior to purchasing. Phillips’ compost doesn’t appear to contain any, however, it’s always best to confirm before purchasing. I’ve also sent an email to Phillip’s supplier (Paygro) and asked if they use biosolids in their blends.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Your Soil and Health Scout,

May 18, 2012
by: Anonymous


Im curious if the poster of this question has offered any additional comments. I am doubtful that anything could grow in soil conditoned with 20 lbs of tripple 12 at the rate of 20lds per 150 sqft. 2 lbs of tripple 12 would be a very heavy aplication. The aditional comment regarding miracle grow also makes me think the post is a hoax. Anyhow, just curious. I would also like to add that if someone is truly intersted in converting virgin (or previously non organic) grow space into organic grow space, i would recommend the “double dig” method. Dig a trench across the width of your grow space to the depth of one shovel, then dig your trench deeper about one shovel length. Now simply peel 2 to three inches off the side of the trench, dropping the dirt into the bottom of your initial trench. You should add compost or horse manure as you work across your plot. I like to add about compost so everytime i mover dirt with the shovel i can see it mixing in. If i dont see compost then its not enough. You can never add to much compost, but if you use a sifted commercial compost you can have problems if it is not mixed into your native soil good enough.

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