There is a corner at the end of the garden where we’d like to grow a few vegetables – it is sunny and warm but, for a couple of reasons, the soil needed some major work on it. Firstly, I have wondered if the previous occupants here ever added any organic matter to the soil; it seems a bit thin and stony and there isn’t a great deal of worm activity. Secondly, to screen the really rather inoffensive shed they’d planted six conifers, (some variety of Chamaecyparis lawsonia, I think) with the result that the soil for many feet around is bone dry. With not a little pleasure, we removed them. Even with the incredible amount of rain in 2012, the soil was still very dry indeed and I decided to try an idea new to me: composting trenches.
Instead of adding your vegetable kitchen waste to the compost heap, you dig a trench or a hole, at least a foot deep, and bury it. This adds moisture and nutrients at the root zone and encourages the activity of worms and other soil creatures. Starting in late autumn, a trench was dug where the conifers had been.
Small trench for one bucket of kitchen waste.
Vegetable kitchen waste was collected in a covered bucket and generally filled up about once a week. This was then dumped into the trench, chopped up a bit and watered. To help things along, I added some red worms (Eisenia species) from the compost heap.
We were then offered a large amount of horse manure – wriggling with red worms – so a good fork full of that got added in as well as being spread on the surface. Then the trench is filled in and you dig the next one and continue digging them, constantly adding organic matter and in the process encouraging worms and other wildlife.
Trench with the kitchen waste and horse manure
After a few weeks, I couldn’t resist the temptation to see what was happening under the surface and decided to have a quick dig. To my pleasure, I found that every scrap of kitchen waste had gone and the soil was now moist and rich with plenty of worms in it. We’ll be trying beans in that spot and are looking forward to seeing them grow.