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Building Better Growing Media

Compost is nearly every gardener’s “go-to” resource. It’s packed full of nutrients, dramatically improves the quality of the soil and costs little to produce.

The challenge with using compost, however, is knowing at what point it becomes too much of a good thing.

At Longwood, our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint has resulted in the onsite production of a plentiful supply of compost that we use throughout our gardens. Our goal is to use this valuable resource to its fullest potential while minimizing our use of peat moss — a growing medium that is not renewable. 

Our researchers are actively working to identify soil blends that will yield the greatest benefit for both the plant and the environment. What we have discovered is that a good growing environment can contain up to 30 percent compost. For this compound to be successful, however, requires an understanding of acidity levels and their impact on plants. Because of the nutritional value of compost, there’s also little need for fertilizer. 

Our researchers will spend the next few years working to determine the exact chemical properties of compost and its effects on the physical properties of growing substrate.