Sunday, June 05, 2011

Farm life - compost

Look at that beautiful soil:

All, alright, it's ugly now, but in a few weeks, it will be dark, rich earth; just itching to make plants grow.

There are lots of way to transform food waste into soil. My favourite way, developed when I got my first allotment garden. The topsoil there was less than an inch before it hit hardpan, so there was virtually no way to make things grow.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I wasn't interested in buying soil, so I decided to make my own using a method common about a hundred and fifty years ago: trenching.

First, you dig a trench, then you put a medium amount of compost material in it. If you have a lot of things to compost, don't fill up the trench too far, just save some for the next trench. Believe me, less haste makes more speed. This goes for everything in gardening.

I usually put a small scoop of lime in with the compost. This helps reduce any possible smell that would attract critters to dig it up. Also, it helps balance the PH of the soil.

Next I chop up the compost with the edge of the shovel. This makes it degrade faster and reduces the bulk for the next step.

Next, dig another trench beside this one. Use the soil from the new trench to cover the one you just made.

If you dig too close, then you end up digging up what you just buried.

When all is said and done, it should look something like this:

A mound of dirt with compost under it, and a trench next to it waiting for more compost.

When the time comes for more compost to be trenched, re-dig the trench. It tends to fill in over time. The deeper the trench, the better things are.

If you want to try this method, take the time and do it right.

One advantage to this method I've found (aside from not attracting rats) is that the soil gets dug an extra time or two during the year which reduce weeds and somehow increases worms.

You can also use this to compost most garden waste like bean stocks (chop them up small). Not tomatoes or potatoes though - it encouraged disease in the soil.


Josiane said...

It's the first time I hear of this method - it sounds great! It'd certainly help the poor soil I have here...

Anonymous said...

That's the first I've heard of this too. It sounds like it'd be really useful, too. I know I spent ages getting the soil right for my lilies when I lived in red clay land; if only I'd know of this then!