Compost for “no dig” gardening


Valued Member
Premium Member
Jan 10, 2016
Lately I’ve been binging on Charles Dowding videos about “No Dig” gardening...which I’m sure won’t be new to many people on the forum. It all seems very logical so I thought I’d try to stick with his principles a little more closely this year.
I know we’ve had threads before about the pros & cons of using compost from the tip...and I think Mark has a segment about what to do when you run out of home made compost (which for me on a suburban block is “all the time”!). But I wondered if anyone knows much about Australian commercial compost? The stuff you buy from the landscaper’s place - not the stuff in bags.
The premium stuff we bought smelt like it definitely had blood & bone added, and stated that it had a mix of soil organisms (not sure how they achieve this as I thought they had to sterilise it for sale in case they spread pests?). But this crusted so badly after watering I had to get a shovel to plant anything into it. Definitely NOT what the lovely Charles does at his place!!
So we tried the next grade down. Less crusting, but completely hydrophilic - I don’t know where the water goes but dig a cm down and it’s completely dry even after long bouts of watering.
Any thoughts about how to now improve the “premium” compost? (So far everything I planted has pretty much died!!)


Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Mar 30, 2016
Add some organic matter into it to help water retention and biological activity. Coconut coir, mushroom compost from the mushroom farm, leaves, grass clippings, etc. however, if you add leaves and grass, you’ll have to supplement with some nitrogen or leave it rest for a few months


Valued Member
Premium Member
Sep 27, 2015
Pomona, Qld
To be honest I think commercial 'compost' or 'garden soil' is a full on waste of money!
Its crap!
Best to buy your own mushroom compost, coconut coir, a few bags of premium potting mix, your own home made kitchen compost, chipped garden prunings, Lucerne hay, and whatever else you can scrounge from neighbours etc & mix your own.
As Daniel said you need to add nitrogen to it in the form of blood and bone so the composting process has fuel.
Turn it as often as you can and pile high to keep it hot and cover with hessian bags or similar to keep the heat in.
Then after a couple weeks, spread it out on a big tarp, check its pH and adjust accordingly. Add some good general fertilizer, a little more B&B, K, trace elements & mix thoroughly and dig into your chosen place.
Spread seed for a green manure crop, water well and allow to grow 4-5wks. Then chop it down with a weed eater or brush cutter, cover with soaked Lucerne or sugar cane hay, leave another couple weeks, then plant up. Growing the green manure crop should soften the soil so there is no need to dig hence it enables your need for a no dig garden.

Don't add too much N during the second compost producing green manure stage. It is false economy to boost the N without first balancing the silica, boron and K.
After that the plants will be able to use the N you already added and that which was produced during the green manure cropping stage. N can't be utilized unless the silica and boron are good and plants wont germinate properly unless K is good.

Silica can be provided by lime or DE; Boron by borax in minute amounts; K as potassium sulphate which also provides a little sulphur; your trace elements will provide everything else. Your good prilled general fertilizer or boosted chicken manure fertilizer will provide the major minerals.

If you are into it, Nutri-Tech Solutions at Yandina, Qld, do household sized combo batches of complementary Bio-Life liquids which provide all the goodies to make quality garden soil. Adding the trio of these at both of the composting stages will ensure the best compost possible and ultimately a quality garden growing medium.