Composting in Place

Now that the weather is really warming up, things are growing like crazy … including the weeds. The dandelions are big and lush and green. So what to do with all that bio-mass that gets weeded out? In the past we’ve piled debris up in big stacks and had them picked up and hauled away – but it’s really a shame to lose all the nutrients contained in that plant matter. Since we want to build, not deplete, our soil, nutrients should be cycled back in.

For a while we had a compost pile. That was not ideal either: it dried out; we didn’t turn it; it got contaminated with noxious weeds. We were never able to obtain viable compost from that pile.

IMG_0084Finally I have hit on a good solution: composting in place. Now, when I weed a bed in preparation for planting, I throw all the compostable plants into a shallow trench next to the bed. The noxious weeds still go to the trash pile, but that’s a very small amount. In the end I have a weed-free bed and a mini-compost trench. There are many advantages to this system:

  • Since it’s enclosed by soil, things break down much faster
  • Nutrients are released right where they are needed, instead of having to be spread
  • No ugly compost piles to offend the eye
  • The filled-in compost trench can do double duty as a path or a swale, making more efficient use of the space

If you’ve been unhappy with the amount of effort it takes to build, turn, and spread your compost, give composting in place a try.

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