Joel In The Garden

Leaves, compost, wood chips, manure: Time to amend your soil

Leaves, compost, wood chips, manure: Time to amend your soil »Play Video
Phil Johnson begins unloading a truck load of dairy manure to fertilize his plot.

Watch Joel in the Garden on KMTR NewsSource16 at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursdays

EUGENE, Ore. — As gardeners clean up their plots before the November deadline, they're also looking for just about any material they can find to cover everything for the winter.  

The official start of winter is still weeks away, but gardening in Eugene doesn't come to screeching halt.

Winter lettuce is thriving, and I'm still finding some pretty good radishes and raspberries. But with their plots cleaned up, many gardeners are using this time to gather as much compost as they can get their hands on.

“I have very clay-like soil,” Mary Moffat said. “This is a good thing to amend it with.”

“This is my third and I've only been doing it for a couple days now,” Stacy Turnbull said while filling up his pickup bed with a load of wood chips. “It adds up pretty quickly.”

Unlike Moffat, Turnbull has a little help on this cloudy day.

“I just try to get a kid or two out here and working so they can work off some energy,” Turnbull said.

I previously mentioned how maple leaves make pretty good compost and they'll act as a natural weed barrier, but they can have a tendency to mat.

Or you can run over your pile of leaves with a lawn mower. That'll help the leaves break down quicker, otherwise they can take up to a year to decompose.

“The heat means it's already starting to break down, which is good,” Moffat said.

But while these two are loading up their steaming piles, Phil Johnson is unloading a truckload of his.

“It's dairy manure,” Johnson said.

Johnson found this pickup load at a farm near Coburg. Although the odor is stronger, Johnson says he prefers fresh manure because it's lighter and easier to move.

“It's a pretty nice product because it doesn't grow any weeds and breaks down pretty fast,” Johnson said.

And Turnbull admits he won't be doing much of this work when the rain arrives, but a few truckloads of woodchips and compost will go a long way in his yard.

“I just look for places around the house that have big mud spots or something,” Turnbull said. “I try to fill those in and cover up some stuff with chips or leaves or something like that so it drowns out the weeds.”

A repetitious job that'll no doubt become routine for gardeners for the next few months. If you have a plot at one of Eugene's community gardens and don't plan to grow anything throughout the winter, the deadline to clean up your garden plot is Friday, November 15. Otherwise, you may receive a notice from the city and your plot may be given away in the spring.