John Dromgoole compost and mulch: Central Texas Gardener


Hello gardening friends and welcome to Backyard
Basics. You know some of the letters that come in to Central Texas Gardner are from
new gardeners and they have some questions, some real basic questions that sometimes I
assume that people know and they don’t, especially the new gardeners. And so one of the questions
is related to what’s the difference between mulch and compost. Well this is one of the
many mulches that are out there and its usually a ground wood, this is a recycle wood from
the area and I like to buy local so this is a recycled wood. When they’re clearing some
area, maybe a development is going in and so they’ll go in there and they’ll take oak
wood and cedar wood as they clear and that’s what this is. It’s allowed to sit for a little
while and brown out nicely and it looks really good on the ground and it has some organic
matter in there that’s fine like a compost but not a whole lot. This is the compost right
here. This is a nice finished product. I encourage you to make it at home but you can find it
commercially also. It’s a real pretty product, its nice and loose and this is what we work
in to the soil. When you’ve got a hard, compacted soil like this one and you’re beating it with
something trying to open it up, that’s not enough. When you finish loosing it a little
bit then you go in there and work in the generous amount of compost and that means about a three
inch layer of compost on top of it — maybe a little bit more. And so then you’ll work
that in and the thing to do really is to take a garden fork. A nice garden fork is what
you need to work in to the soil, it’s the best way to work it and you want to get one
with nice strong tines on it. If you by a cheap one the tines may bend on you, especially
in that hard soil on the first go around so you want a nice sturdy one. You know some
of the garden forks are consumer items and you consume them over and over and over, over
time so go out and get yourself a good one and it’ll last for many years and it’ll become
your gardening friend also. So this is what we’re going to use to work it in to the bed
and then once we do that we see the soil getting really nice and loose. You can just stick
your hand down in the soil and that change occurs over time. It’s not the fastest thing
in the garden. It’s really something that takes some time and you repeat that. You know
if you put in three inches of composts, whether it’s the spring or the fall in the next season
you put in a third of that amount so you’ll go back and add about an inch of compost just
to maintain it. Now compost can be used as a mulch and you put it right on top when the
beds are finished and it’ll make a nice mulch also. So the compost also brings in nutrients.
There are some good nutrients in here some trace minerals, some phosphorus, a little
bit of nitrogen so you are bringing in nutrients to the garden when you do this. Its not everything,
you can use a good organic fertilizer out there, depends on what you’re growing but
this brings in nutrients but most importantly it brings life to the soil and that’s what
we’re looking for. Some of these compacted soils are anaerobic, no air is getting in
there and it’s the aerobic organism that make the compost in the garden one of the more
essential things to build it. For the organic gardener or any kind of gardener using the
compost is the key to success in that garden. Some people will put a little bit of this
in a container, a five gallon container for example. Down in the bottom, stir it up, let
it settle down, twenty-four hours later take the compost tea out of there and wet the soil
with it also. You can put it with water at about the color of ice tea, you know you blend
it a little bit that way. Put it in your water can and go up and down the garden. So this
is mulch a nice way to finish off the garden, drop the soil temperature rather dramatically,
keep weeds suppressed and keep moister in the soil. That’s one of the more important
things. The compost will act like a sponge and hold the moister in the soil also and
keep it nice and (?) and you’ll see that you’ll know one of the secrets of the organic gardener
that compost is the most essential thing that you can add to the garden and the you mulch
on top of it. For Backyard Basics I’m John Drumgle. I’ll see you next time.

2 thoughts on “John Dromgoole compost and mulch: Central Texas Gardener

  1. John's modest- his mulches and compost blends are some of the best- really high quality organic stuff. I use his bagged compost to brew Compost Tea (w/ a 5 gallon bucket, air pump & air stones).

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