Well, Nichole, I have admitted before that I'm terrible at making compost. Way back in 2008, when I first began this blog, I confessed....
I'm a failure at composting. I used to have a wonderful compost pile, back in the days when I had a "real" garden and a nearby neighbor with horse poop and straw. Now, living in the city, I have a bottomless barrel back behind the garden shed, and I just randomly throw the kitchen and garden scraps into it. I think it takes something like five years to decompose (not really, but it seems like it). I just don't have all the brown and green stuff to have a proper compost pile. And my almost-seventy-year-old body doesn't take kindly to the daily compost turning, anyway. It's for that reason I now do "trench composting". I just find a vacant spot in my garden, dig a hole and bury everything. By next spring it will have enriched my garden plot with little or no work on my part.
I still use that old barrel, and my old body is almost 75 now, but I have added a 4'x4'x4' fenced in area in the corner of the garden in which I pile chopped leaves mixed with grass clippings. I don't do anything to it, just keep it damp and use it like this....
First I dig a trench, not too deep, just down a garden fork full of soil. Then I add a layer of garden "trash". That could be any garden vegetation that's not showing signs of disease, like bean or pea vines or, in this case, corn husks.
Then I add my kitchen garbage. I keep this in a container with a tight lid, under the kitchen sink, until the container is full.
I cover that with a layer of the partially decomposed leaves and grass clippings from the pile in the corner of the garden.
I pull the soil back over the trench, breaking up dirt clods and small roots, and use the fork to make it somewhat smooth.
I add the rest of the bucket of leaves to the top, to remind me I've already trenched this area. When my son has time to go to the nursery to get a load of dairy compost (hello, John!), I'll top this bed with a few more leaves and about 2" of the compost. It will be all ready for planting next year.
This 3' wide potato bed was trench composted as I dug the potatoes, now it's covered with chopped leaves and just waiting for its top dressing of dairy compost (hello. John!).
I sure miss my old pickup. We've talked about buying an old junker, just for hauling cow poo and the occasional 8' boards we sometimes need, but when we consider the cost of insuring a vehicle just to use a couple of times a year, we talk ourselves out of it. Son John has a pickup. Hello, John.....Mom needs you :-)
This looks like it works so well for you and looks so nice. You don't have to add the leaves, do you? I have also read to blend up your stuff but who wants to do that every time! NancyReplyDelete
Nancy, the leaves are like frosting on the cake....not really necessary, but nice to have. When we were leaving for AZ every year, I was gone before the neighbor's trees began shedding their leaves, so I didn't have access to them. Now that I'm home in late October and through November, I can get all I want and more! I find it very difficult to turn compost any more. It's hard enough on this old body just keeping that garden up!Delete
I like this idea! Just put it in the ground. I have room for composting but I have to tell you, I am not the best at composting myself! This seems like a great idea to me!ReplyDelete
Texan it's how my Grandma did it many, many years ago, and she had the best garden I ever saw! There is a way to get faster compost. It involves a can of cola (not sugar free), a can of beer and a cup of ammonia in a hose end sprayer. Layer the goodies and spray each layer with the concoction. It's supposed to get it hot enough to compost in 10-14 days. Never tried it myself, but I might. I don't know why those layers I put in the ground couldn't be sprayed with it and then ignored, maybe they would break down even faster than they do now!Delete
My father in law uses this same method and over the years it has really improved his soil. I think I will give it a try in my new garden this fall.ReplyDelete
Stoney, it sure beats turning those heavy compost piles!Delete
Sounds like a great system. I am for anything that works! I have lots of grass clippings, cow poop and chicken poop and I just pile it up and wait. Never had any luck getting it turned regularly. Obviously, from your beautiful crops, you've found something that works well.ReplyDelete
Ray, with all that animal poop, you've got a good thing LOL! When I had access to the horse manure, and was still young enough to get out there and turn the pile once in awhile, I actually melted the hems on my polyester pants it got so hot! Ya, that was back in the 70s ;-)Delete
Trench composting! I am so glad you shared this post. I learned to do this from my father many years ago. He would throw all his kitchen / dry/green in between his garden beds. It does work! I have so much wonderful organic matter that the moles keep coming back every year to party-lol...they know where to find some food-:-) robbie p.s. I wanted to post to the one about your grandaughter-she is very cute! I have been busy the past year, we have our first grand babies. Two little boys:-) I look foward to spending time in the garden---ReplyDelete
Robbie, I do the trench composting in the paths between the beds if the beds are all full. Eventually the entire garden gets at least a little bit of extra nourishment! I've been letting the two dogs go into the garden now that the plants are large enough that they won't do much damage to them, but I caught Annie trying to dig up some kitchen scraps this morning. When I find rotting rinds on my dining room rug, the gate will once again be closed!Delete
Thank you, we think Alicyn is a cutie, too. Oh, you will have such a good time gardening with the grandsons!
Thanks for this info Granny! I am working on improving my terrible soil and this seems like a very good method to try out!ReplyDelete
You're welcome, Nutmeg. It's my "lazy woman's way", but it does improve the soil :-)Delete
YAY! John brought me a yard of cow poop today! The empty beds will get their top dressing soon!ReplyDelete
Not to sound redundant...but to clarify the point...once and for all...ReplyDelete
I am asking directly: You use no fertilizer at all?
No secret weapon, no magic dust, no wee fairies that sprinkle magic powder each night? Just compost and John's "poop" deliveries. Thanks.
P.S. You are awesome! I couldn't grow 1/2 of what you do-even if I had a lifetime trying!
Sometimes I go to the feed store and buy some alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) which are great sprinkled around the lettuce/spinach beds as a non-burning source of nitrogen. I haven't bought any since our rabbit died though, so it's been a couple of years. I did have really nice lettuce when I did use it. Four-year-old grandchildren that help plant the seeds works wonders, too. I might help the plants along with a few applications of fish fertilizer, at a rate of 1-2 tbsp. per gallon (I go by glugs, not measures). If anything looks a bit pale and listless, that usually perks them up. Not all is perfect in Granny's garden, though. I think about half of my tomato plants are dying as we speak :-(Delete
Ok got it! Thanks!ReplyDelete
Rabbit pellets, fish fertilizer and a 4 year old.
I think the 'magic' may be in the 4 yr old. :)