How To Grow: Composting

Learn some alternative ways to make compost beyond just building a pile.

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I have a confession to make. I’m not an active composter.

compostI’d like to think the piles of organic matter I put together in fall will heat up and break down quickly, but invariably other chores take my attention and they slowly decompose to eventually be useable. This method works, but there are other alternatives for making compost right in the garden for those of us who aren’t interested in layering, watering, and turning our compost piles to heat to perfection.

One method is sheet composting. Sheet composting is building a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic materials on your garden beds in fall and then tilling them under. It can be as simple as layering fallen leaves to elaborate as mixing high nitrogen materials such as grass clippings and food scraps with the high carbon materials of old leaves and straw. Fall tilling allows soil microbes to break down the organic matter before planting next spring. Of course, if you’re a no till gardener this won’t fit your system.

Another option is trench composting. Trench composting means digging a 1 foot wide and deep trench anywhere in the garden and burying food scraps, leaves, hay, grass clippings and covering it with a 1/2 inch thick layer of soil. You can use this system with your paths and beds to rotate where the trench will be each year. Divide a 3 foot wide bed into 1 foot sections. In the first section, use the trench composting method. In the second, use it as a garden path and the third is the garden bed. Rotate the trench, path and bed each year and in three years you’ve added compost to the whole area.

From the Vermont Garden Journal

 

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