Build and Maintain a Healthy Soil
Soil is a mix of minerals, organic matter, air, water, and organisms.
A soil test can determine how much of each of these components are in your soil. Submitting your soil for testing is easy and affordable. Your local Extension office will provide information regarding sampling and fees.
Till compost into the vegetable garden prior to planting to improve soil and provide essential plant nutrients.
Soil is home to bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microorganisms. These living organisms hold moisture, retain and make nutrients available for plants, increase water and oxygen to the soil, produce growth-promoting hormones for the plants, and prevent soil from erosion. We disturb the home of these microorganisms anytime we need to work the soil.
Organic matter (compost) supplies much of what aids living organisms in our soil.
Building a healthy soil prior to planting will help plants grow. Add compost and have your soil tested to determine what your yard needs.
For new lawns and gardens: Work one to three inches of compost into planting sites prior to planting to improve looseness and workability of soil. Heavy, tight clay soils benefit from the loosening effects of organic materials. Sandy soils benefit from the improved water holding capacity and fertility that organic materials provide. Compost also contains nutrients that plants require. Adding compost to soil prior to planting is easier than topdressing or working compost in later and will help get your plants off to the right start.
For existing lawns and gardens, apply up to one-half inch of compost over the root spread of plants each year to improve and maintain soil workability. Compost also returns plant essential nutrients to the soil.