Composting

(Question)

Southeast Etobicoke here again. I understand now that I should have composted in the fall. But the gardens haven’t been composted in 3 or 4 years. They badly need it. How much can I put on over the perennials and still have them come up? I will be adding the compost around April 6th when the crocuses and daffodils are coming up already. Should I add some then and then side dress around the pansies, snap dragons larkspur and columbine after all the perennials are up?

(Answer)

Compost – gardening gold. It’s never too late. I would say that if the compost was ready in the fall, easily accessible and can be removed and broken up from the composter, do it now. But south Etobicoke, like most of southern Ontario is in a deep freeze, and it would be like trying to move an ice block.

So, early spring would be good. You can spread several centimetres (10 to 15), depending on how much you have available, right on top of the perennials. They will come right through it.

A couple of caveats, however. Spring thaw is critical for air and water getting into the soil. Walking around your lawn and garden to spread compost can easily compact the soil, and almost spoil what you’re trying to do. As I said in the beginning, if you can spread compost while the ground is still frozen, go for it. As the ground thaws, it will settle, the worms will come up and do the job. That might be before the crocuses come up. If that is not possible, then you should wait until the ground is no longer wet, or if you can do it from hard surfaces, such as a patio or pathway. The perennials may be just coming up, but adding compost on them is fine. If you are planting annuals later, add compost to the area as you plant.

Your plants will love you!