“Mushroom Compost” Or Substrate

Gardening Question From Martha: I have access to a commercial mushroom farm that makes its spent mushroom medium available at no charge to gardeners. This seems to be a terrific addition for my raised beds. I once toured a mushroom farm and saw that they sterilized the medium before onoculating it with the mushroom spawn. […]

Composted Topsoil

Gardening Question From Crystal: I am going to be doing some container gardening this summer for the first time. I am trying to do it as organically as possible. I have bough an organic potting soil but would like to add some compost. I have limited space, hence the container gardening, so I have reached […]

Compost Source

Question from Sherri: I live in Quartz Hill and I am looking for a source of plant based compost in this area. I have used Agromin, which is wonderful, but I  would like to locate a local source. Answer from Pat: Since I answer questions from all over California, the USA and occasionally from foreign […]


Question from Moira: Thanks for your postcard last month! I’ve stopped roasting my arm in the compost, substituting a compost crank. It’s easy to use and saved us the expense of buying a tumbler bin. There are worms, pill bugs, ants and other critters in the compost, so I’m happy to have found a […]


Question from Mike: I was eating dried apples, and afterward it looked like there was spider web in the bag, but then I found worms in the bag of apples. I had been eating dried apples with worms. Is there anything to be medically concerned about regarding having ingested worms and their larvae? Other than […]

Difference Between Compost and Top Soil

Question from Karen: What is the difference between compost and top soil and do you need both when amending the soil in your yard? Answer from Pat: When you purchase something called “top soil” this should be the mainly composed of the stuff that is the top layer of earth that is made up of […]

Horse Manure Compost

Gardening Question from Dave: I have a very reliable and steady source of horse manure (1 quarter horse, 1 draft horse and 1 shetland pony) and an equally reliable source of pine needles. Using the old compost addage “something green and something brown” can I combine the two to create useful compost?   Answer from […]


Question from Maria: I was reading early on, about Kugelkulture, where the wood (not necessarly chipped ) is deeply dug into the soil and even covered with a lot of soil…..Yes, will use a lot of Nitrogen in the process , but I did understand that is a good method.  So, my question is: why one con’t […]

New Gardener – Composting for Two

The Jora composter works fine with a few caveats. It takes a man or a very strong and handy woman to put it together. Be sure to fill with equal parts carbonaceous and nitrogenous waste and chop up all materials prior to filling. Keep slightly damp and rotate daily. Can cover air holes with fly […]

Choosing a Drum Composter That Really Works

Question from Jan: I heard you speak @ Temecula Valley Garden Club (both times) and enjoyed it immensely. I recently moved and can’t find my notes (oh no!) Would you mind refreshing my memory about the composter your daughter researched? I’m going to need to get one very soon! Answer from Pat: Almost any drum […]