Living in Harmony with Nature and teaching others to garden the natural (organic) way, with emphasis on practices that lead to NUTRIENT DENSE produce!

Harmony Gardens

Harmony Gardens
Bey Home designed by Stitt Energy Systems, Inc. 2002

Welcome To Our Site

Our intent is simple: to provide useful information on gardening, health and sustainability issues. We will include class and meeting announcements, gardening information, and book reviews. The articles that Calvin writes for Garden Thyme, the Master Gardener Newsletter will be included. We will try to make this site easy to use and relevant.

About Me

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Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Harmony Gardens is the home of Calvin and Doris Bey. As the name implies our goal is to live in harmony with the Laws of Nature. We are concerned about the environment, energy efficiency, organic gardening, alternative health, and sustainability issues. We love our Stitt Energy Systems Inc. energy efficient home, which received a First Place NAHB National Award for 2003. Calvin is a retired USDA Forest Service scientist. Each year he teaches classes in Organic Gardening in February and March and again in September. Doris is a retired RN. Calvin and Doris have put their energy efficient house up for sale (by owner). See first post for description, pictures, and house design.

September 18, 2010

Compost/Organic Matter Issues


Using more compost than necessary can create gardening problems. Depending on the compost origin and amounts used, soil minerals can actually become excessive and unbalanced. Correct ratios of minerals in the soil are important. Practices like “Lasagna” and/or “Square-Foot” gardening call for large amounts of organic matter. These are practices that will generally not yield vegetables that are dense in nutrients. With an excess of soil nitrogen, you often get excessive vegetative growth and poor fruit and seed development. Excessive use of compost can also raise the P, K, and Ca levels to more than are needed. Remember, if you keep a healthy (non-chemical) soil, it will be moving in the direction of increasing the organic matter on its own, through all the natural processes.

I have dealt with these issues with gardeners this past month. The AR Soil Lab would not even do a soil test on “soil” sent in from one Square-Foot gardener. The Soil Lab reply was, “send us some mineral soil, not just the soil mulch.” This does not surprise me. The recommended Square-Foot gardening “soil” material is all derived from various kinds of organic matter.

I have looked at many materials for advice on application of compost. The book, How to Grow More Vegetables, by John Jeavons is certainly one of the best for organic/sustainable gardening approaches. John recommends, “a maximum maintenance dressing of ½ inch of compost should be added to the soil before the crop per 4-month growing season.” That is equivalent to 4 cubic feet per 100 square feet of garden bed. I only recommend using high quality, mature compost. Cheap compost that is not fully decomposed is generally not a bargain.

For new beds in our typical NW Arkansas soils (where soil depths can vary from 6 to 20 inches), I recommend that you begin by double digging. In such cases, I recommend that you put 2/3 inch of compost into the lower layer and 1/3 inch on the surface. That equates to 40 and 20 gallons on each respective layer per 100 square feet. So, as you begin, 1 cubic yard of soil is enough for more than 300 square feet.

Tomato Time Hopefully, you have set your tomatoes out and they are doing okay. If you buy plants in tiny pots, I always recommend that you first move them to larger pots. See they picture below. Both plants are of same age (7 weeks), but note the huge (more than doubled-size difference), when the one plant on the left was moved to a 2-gallon pot when the plant was 6 inches tall.


1 comment:

Brent Pohlman said...

Send your samples to Midwest Laboratories. We will test your soil sample. Check out our analysis and fees online at

Brent Pohlman
Midwest Laboratories

Garden 2007

Garden 2007
Heirloom "Country Gentleman" Corn