Ask a Question forum: Will compost still help plants if it is put on top of soil instead of tilled in?

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Asheville, NC
mheidi
Jun 10, 2017 5:26 PM CST
I have a new garden that was a pasture until recently. I had it plowed deeply, and rototilled twice, and I'm ready to plant. I am not able to afford to buy compost right now, so I would like to plant and then later on, put the compost on top of the soil. Will it still help the plants if it is not tilled in, but just on top? I am hoping it will also help insulate the soil from the summer heat as well. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 10, 2017 6:54 PM CST
Hi and welcome! Yes, the compost will gradually work its way down into the soil as you are watering your garden. It's commonly called "top dressing".

You might want to also mulch on top of the compost with something like hay or straw though. It will insulate the soil from the sun and heat better than your compost will. It also protects the soil and compost from erosion by heavy rain which can be a big deal in summer storms. Then at the end of the season you can till it under for more good organic amendment to the soil for next year.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 11, 2017 4:33 AM CST
Mother nature never tills OM into the soil. You can't get a better example than that.

A 15-min lecture on microbiology that can help you drastically change the life of your garden:
https://permaculturenews.org/2...
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Jun 11, 2017 5:12 AM CST
Yes worms etc will gradually pull down the top layer of compost, top dressing is fine.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jun 11, 2017 9:00 AM CST
Yes, simply spread the compost around the plants. I never till my compost in. And I agree with Elaine about using mulch.
Asheville, NC
mheidi
Jun 11, 2017 6:48 PM CST
Thanks everyone for the great responses! I feel confident about putting the compost on top, and I will till it in at the end of the season.

Is there a way to mark this question as answered?

Thanks,
[Last edited by mheidi - Jun 11, 2017 6:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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purpleinopp
Jun 12, 2017 7:47 AM CST
I strongly, vehemently, strenuously, vigorously, thoroughly, sincerely must urge, compel, encourage, request, yearn, and downright beg you to please not till later. It will destroy the work of the microbes, many of the larger critters that perform an important function, and, more importantly, the drainage. More details in the vid I linked.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.

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