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.