Master Gardener Series: Soils and Compost

This series of short courses is excerpted from OSU’s Master Gardener online course, allowing you to study specific fundamentals of gardening.

Soils and Compost Course

In Soils and Compost, you will learn about the impact of soil texture and composition on soil quality, pH levels, and soil nutrients. You will also explore fertilizer types and application techniques, as well as how to produce compost.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish different soil textures and compositions, and explain how they impact soil quality
  • List the macro-, secondary and micro-nutrients necessary for healthy plants
  • Describe the influence of pH on soil nutrients, as well as how pH can be modified by limes or sulfur
  • Describe the key characteristics of different types of processed and organic fertilizers
  • Calculate how much fertilizer they should apply, per unit area of lawn or garden
  • Explain the ways in which inappropriate gardening practices can negatively impact soils and plants
  • Describe how to construct a compost pile which will produce usable compost

Master Gardener Short Course Series

OSU’s Master Gardener Short Course Series includes the following 12 on-demand gardening courses:

1) Free Intro to Oregon Master Gardener Program

2) Basic Botany Online Course

3) Soils and Compost Online Course

4) Vegetable Gardening Online Course

5) Introduction to Entomology Online Course

6) Plant Pathology Online Course

7) Pesticide Safety Online Course

8) Herbaceous Ornamental Plants Online Course

9) Sustainable Landscape Design Online Course

10) Sustainable Landscape Management Online Course

11) Integrated Pest Management Online Course

12) Woody Landscape Plants Online Course

Please note: If you're interested in receiving a Certificate of Home Horticulture or becoming an OSU Master Gardener, please visit the Master Gardener Online page. The on-demand short courses are designed to boost your expertise, however, they will not lead to the full Certificate of Home Horticulture. Also please note, you will have access to the on-demand course materials for one year after your registration date.

On Demand. Access Anytime
4-6 hours
price (2)


Signe Danler
Master Gardener Online

Signe Danler is a veteran Master Gardener and landscape designer with a Masters of Ag degree in Horticulture. With the OSU Extension Service Master Gardener Program, she uses her experience and training in gardening, urban forestry and ecological landscaping to communicate about and promote sustainable gardening and landscaping practices.

Gail Langellotto

Gail Langellotto works with the OSU Master Gardener program, state and local agencies, nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations. She helps to develop a better research-based understanding of how to design and sustainably manage gardens and parks to maximize ecosystem services. Her outreach efforts focus on communicating research-backed management practices to home gardeners and commercial landscapers.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.