Question: Please tell me what I need to do this Fall to prepare the the soil. What products do I need? Also, I have a compost bin. I read that if I shred all the vegetation I put into it, it will decompose faster. Where can I purchase a compost shredder? Does the Home Depot sell them?
Answer: If you're installing a new perennial bed, all you need to do now is spread 4-5" of organic matter over the top and dig it in to a depth of 6-8". In the spring you can dig the bed again, plant your perennials, then mulch over the bare soil with additional organic matter. The mulch will help suppress weeds, release nutrients to the plant's roots and help slow evaporation. At the end of the season you can dig it into the soil and add fresh mulch. Incorporating organic matter into the soil over a period of a few years will produce a rich, loamy soil and your perennials will thrive.
It's true, the smaller the pieces you put into your compost pile, the faster they decompose. Although you could purchase a shredder, there are a couple of ways you can make the vegetation smaller before adding it to your compost bin. The first is simply to cut it or tear it by hand. I use pruners to cut woody plant debris and I just tear the soft stuff with my hands. In the case of leaves, just run them over with your lawn mower.
Good luck with your perennial bed and with your compost!
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