The Allotment Diaries: Compost Conundrums

Since planting my seed potatoes in one-third of my allotment bed on 26 April, I have been considering ways to improve the soil quality and open it up from the muddy-clay it is at present to something worthy of growing vegetables in.

My first thought is to spread a bag or two of horticultural grit over the surface and work it in, but that will be hard work, not to mention expensive, and is faintly ridiculous considering the community garden sits on the surface of a disused sand and gravel quarry. However, with all the landscaping going on around the site, and access restricted, most of the loose sand has been covered or moved.

Option Two is to reconsider something I’ve mentioned previously (though when and where is lost in the murky mists of time. If I find it I’ll link it, but it’s not that important). So what is this mysterious gardening trick?

Trench Composting

Instead of putting your kitchen and garden waste in the compost bin (and my two are pretty full at the moment) you dig a trench in the area(s) you wish to improve and bury organic waste in it. You can also dig ‘catholes’ and do the same.

So, that’s my plan for the final third of the allotment bed, the one that will eventually have brassicas planted in it. Instead of throwing kitchen waste into the compost bin, I’ll put it in a bucket, and when that bucket is full, I’ll take it to the allotment and bury it. I’ll add in some cardboard packaging and last year’s dead leaves and let it do its thing. And there’s no problem with planting vegetables on top of it, even it not fully composted.

BUT – I won’t use potato peelings (in case they sprout) or the centres from sweet peppers, tomatoes or squashes; no seeds that might start to germinate where I don’t want them.

Then, as I harvest first the onions and then the potatoes, I’ll continue trench or hole composting in each of those sections until autumn comes. Next year, I’ll plant onions where the potatoes were, potatoes where the brassicas were, and brassicas in the middle section, moving them along one bed the following year (3-year crop rotation).

Some Useful Links

Grow Veg, Natural Spa Supplies, Preparedness Mama, Backyard Garden Lover.

8 thoughts on “The Allotment Diaries: Compost Conundrums

  1. I’ve read of this method used when sowing beans – runner beans, especially. I have never done it, staying with the old-style compost bins.

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    1. I spent a while trying to figure out where to put a compost bin, and finally just accepted that anywhere that seemed reasonable was also a reasonable place to put a lounge chair. The lounge chairs won! The side effects of a (relatively) small garden.

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  2. I tried trench composting for the first time this year! It seemed so wonderfully simple. Hadn’t thought of planning a rotation though, that seems useful.

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    1. So far so good! I was pleased by how quickly things broke down, and no problems with animals (that said, I didn’t include any meat or dairy, just plant-based stuff. We have raccoons around here and I didn’t want to tempt them!). I’m planning to do another trench soon and use it for last season’s vegetable plant remains when I pull them out.

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    2. The allotments are near a river so I was thinking rats. We have compost bins on site but no-one mentioned any problems. Your positive results have made me determined that this is the way to go . we can be trench composting buddies 😁

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