Friday, April 8, 2011
Compost Question for the Masses - To Dig or Not to Dig?
Looking at this picture, you would think it was still mid-March. This spring (at least in my opinion) has been a bit cooler than usual thus far and I think we are at least a couple of weeks behind schedule temperature-wise. However, it seems Mother Nature is now playing catch up as it's expected to get into the 60's during the next six days. (I need to plant peas ASAP!)
Anyway, I thought I'd take a few pictures this weekend to document the progress we're making each day. The ground is still soft but no longer muddy and the beds have dried up quite a bit. We only had a couple hours to work in the garden today but it felt really good to break a sweat under the mid-afternoon sun.
We took the plastic off of the hoop house today mainly because the inside temperature was reaching into the 90 degrees during the day (bad for spinach and Asian greens) and also because I was really sick of looking at it. I would have just taken off the doors but it was casting a shadow as well. The frame will be kept up this summer as I'm thinking of growing pole beans or cucumbers on them. This fall, I'll move the hoop house a row over so that it no longer casts a shadow and install the professional greenhouse plastic.
We also cleaned up most of the beds and started to lay down the compost. Anyway, here is my question to all you out there:
Do you dig your compost into the soil or just let it rest on top? Obviously, digging it into the soil would be the more conventional approach but I've read an article or two that said that leaving the compost on top (or working it lightly into the top two inches of the soil) and allowing the worms to bring it down slowly mimics nature to a greater extent and is therefore more beneficial to your plants. On the other hand I've also read that sunlight can diminish the quality of compost. For heavy feeders such as melons and tomatoes, I can see the benefits of digging a deep hole and filling it with compost, but I wonder if turning the compost into the soil is really necessary most of the time. The lazy garden in me hopes not. Any thoughts on the issue?