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compost spreading timing?  RSS feed

 
John Brenne
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I am new at not tilling soil. I have had my raised beds covered with leaf mulch all winter and I am getting ready to plant my spring crops. Do I remove the mulch and just sprinkle the compost on top? Or do you do it in the fall and cover with mulch so you just remove the mulch in the spring and plant?
 
Todd Hoff
Posts: 63
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Here are some notes I have collected, it may help:

1. Topdressing- every year an application of compost is appropriate, for young trees add a organic fruit tree fertilizer in the spring (before the rains end)

2. Cover cropping is a great way to build soil and protect it from heavy winter rains… sow a mixture of bell beans (or favas) and oats in the fall , after our first rains have wet the soil enough to create a seed bed (lightly fork or till the earth, create small furrows in the ground, and plant the seed)

3. If you cover crop, follow these directions- sow cover in the fall, in spring chop down plants at the base, use the top portion as a green mulch around the fruit trees, chop it up with your shovel and lay it under the drip line of the trees, if the tree is young put your fertilizer under the chopped cover crop, on top of the cover crop add your compost (1”- 2”), and then wood chips (3”-5”) on top of that… this is all happening in the spring when your bell beans have 2/3rds of their flowers in bloom

4. If you don’t cover crop- apply your compost and wood chips in the fall or winter to protect the soil from erosion, and to work its way into the earth over the wintertime… if you have young trees, apply organic fertilizer in the springtime (before rains end)-simply move the mulch aside, apply the fert., scratch it into the ground, and then cover with your mulch

5. What to mulch: think of the drip zone of the tree- which is how far the branches move away from the trunk- then go straight down, this is the area to be mulched.... then bring it to within 6" from the trunk
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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To the above, I would like to add:

Do not fertilize fruit trees before the last expected frost date.  An early fertilizing will stimulate growth and budding.  If a late frost happens after that, you can kiss your fruit crop good-bye.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I think Firecraft is talking about vegetable gardening...

Consider covering seeds with this compost layer if you are planting rows in a furrow -- compost is hard won -- I'd save it for maximum benefit.  Otherwise maybe spread compost, sow, and rake shallow.  Only use mature compost.

I till compulsively for my seed beds, I'm not sure I could bear not at least levering with a turning fork , but often use good compost to enhance the seed row.

Compare tilled to no-till.  Lots of variables at play.
 
                                
Posts: 41
Location: Missouri
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What I do, for direct seeding is dig furrows, or drill holes, sprinkle in sifted compost, add seed, and lightly cover and keep mulch pushed aside until plants have established themselves, then, if the ground needs covering, I just gather the mulch around the plant.  For transplants, I will dig a hole through the mulch, drop in some compost, deposit the plant, and then cover with compost and then mulch. This is about the only time I dig in the patch, unless I am removing the stray weed.  Everything does pretty well that way, and you're not disturbing the worms or messing with soil structure a lot.
 
John Brenne
Posts: 32
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Thanks for all the advise. I will open the soil enough to plant the seeds then cover with a thin layer of mature compost. At the end of the year I will cover the beds in compost and mulch over that in preparation for spring planting.
 
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