How to Build Organic Soil


The key to a thriving organic garden is to lay a foundation with a rich, organic soil. Soil that has been amended with organic material such as the kind found in compost is packed with nutrients that can make plants healthier. Plants that are healthy and filled with nutrients have a greater ability to thrive on their own as well as to withstand infestation and diseases. To build good organic soil, amend it with finished compost.

Step 1

Chop up all your organic wastes into 1-inch-square pieces. Grass and dead leaves can be shredded using a lawn mower. Newspaper may be cut using a paper shredder. Kitchen scraps may be reduced using garden shears.

Step 2

Layer green and brown organic materials over one another in 4-inch-deep layers in the compost bin to form a pile that is no less than 3 feet deep and no more than 5 feet deep. The pile should be approximately 5 feet wide.

Step 3

Wet the contents of the compost using a garden hose. Compost should be kept wet to the consistency of a damp sponge.

Step 4

Check the internal temperature of your compost pile by inserting a cooking thermometer's probe into the center of the pile. The internal temperature of the pile should remain between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5

Turn the pile with a garden fork any time the internal temperature drops below 120 degrees. Make sure to shift the contents of the center of the pile to the outside, and the exterior contents to the center. The compost is finished when the pile is completely reduced to the consistency of dirt.

Step 6

Break up the soil to a depth of 8 inches using a rototiller.

Step 7

Spread the finished compost over the soil to a depth of 3 inches.

Step 8

Turn the compost into the soil by running the rototiller over the soil again.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears
  • Lawn mower
  • Paper shredder
  • Compost bin
  • Green organic material such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps and clover
  • Brown organic material such as dead leaves and newspaper
  • Garden fork
  • Garden sieve
  • Rototiller


  • Florida's Online Composting Center:The Quick Tutorial
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Composting/Organics Recycling Main Page
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency: Wastes - Resource Conservation - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Composting

Who Can Help

  • Organic Gardening Magazine:Composting 101
Keywords: making compost, amending soil, organic gardening

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.