Every garden is only as successful as its soil. Healthy, rich soil is the foundation of a productive garden. Today, I prepared part of my garden plot for spring planting. The city provides its community gardens with free compost in the spring, but the compost it typically delivered in April, which is still a few weeks away. That compost comes from leaf collections in the fall and spring and therefore is almost entirely “brown matter”, so it lacks organic components, which I dug in today in the form of, yes, aged chicken poop. I like to use chicken “stuff”, as it is easy to use, cheap and organic. But, yes, it smells a little. At least according to my husband, who likes to complain about the smell when he fixes his bikes in the basement next to our garden supplies. I dug the matter under my soil and was careful to turn only about 6-8 inches of the top soil, which is plenty for my crops. I garden in the city and when our community garden was established, it was all filled up with new top soil. Since I amend it year after year and have a lot of help in the form of tons of earthworms, I can be sure that my top soil is in good shape. But I am not sure what lies underneath and do not care to find out. I have my soil tested from time to time, every three to four years, to make sure it is free of heavy metals and also to see if it lacks any nutrients. Ready to plant peas!