How to Grow Vegetables With Organic Compost

Overview

Compost is a primary tool in the arsenal of the organic gardener. Compost is a loamy soil made from the decomposed remains of plant material that ranges from kitchen scraps to wood chips, paper and straw. Because compost is filled with nitrogen and other nutrients that plants need, organic gardeners use it as a mulch as well as a soil amendment in place of chemically made synthetic fertilizers. You can purchase compost in bags from a garden center, or loose from a city recycling center or farmer's cooperative. Or you can make your own compost by piling organic material into a pile and waiting for it to decompose.

Amending Soil

Step 1

Break up your soil to a depth of 6 inches with a rototiller.

Step 2

Spread compost over your soil at a rate of 1 pound per square foot of soil.

Step 3

Dig compost into the soil to a depth of 6 inches with a garden spade, or mix the compost into the soil with a rototiller.

Step 4

Split your compost into two applications of ½ pound per square foot of soil if you are using your garden to plant crops in succession.

Top Dressing

Step 1

Wait for up to a week once the compost is complete before using. This will give the microbes in the compost a chance to diminish. If the compost is used directly in the soil, the microbes that help decompose the compost can damage the roots of vegetable plants.

Step 2

Spread compost over the surface of soil in a 2-inch layer as you would a mulch.

Step 3

Rake the compost into the top 2 inches of soil. This process, called mulch gardening, makes it easier to remove weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Mesh bag

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: * Producing Garden Vegetables with Organic Soil Amendments
  • Oregon State University Extension: Recycle with Compost Pile
  • NC State University Extension: A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Wastes

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University Extension: Composting at Home
Keywords: organic gardening, natrual compost, growing vegetables organically

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."