Composting is such an amazing concept; by using your own home’s waste, nutrient-rich soil is created that can be used in so many areas of life. Unfortunately, many who would love to compost simply do not have the time or resources needed to do so effectively. However, easier methods of composting are available that can provide the same great benefits substantially easier.
Each time you throw waste into your kitchen trash, you probably wonder why you can’t just bury those scraps in your garden? Well, you actually can through a method called trench composting, which allows gardeners to bury almost any food scraps right then and there in any garden area. These scraps will then compost underground and provide the garden with more nutrients while reducing overall waste.
Composting is extremely important, as it creates an organic material that can be added to soil to help increase plant growth. Food scraps often make up a third of overall waste in a home and trench composting is an easy way to reuse what would have been trash and make it beneficial. Of course, now you simply need to learn more about how you can go about starting this style of composting in your garden.
Benefits of Trench Composting
Naturally increasing the quality of your garden’s soil is perhaps the biggest benefit of starting trench composting. The importance of soil is truly something that cannot be overlooked and giving plants nutrient-rich dirt is the best way to facilitate growth.
The importance of soil is abundantly found in the Bible:
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.Isaiah 61:11
Nutritious soil is just like God’s Word, it is needed for the best growth.
When trench composting is used in a garden, it will encourage the development of deep, water-conserving root systems in the plants. It also creates an underground band of nutrient-rich humus that all plants will love. The process is slower than many traditional composting methods, but the overall benefits remain. Some other great benefits of burying scraps directly in the garden are:
- Little to no smell will be evident, lowering the chance of attracting unwanted animals into your yard.
- Maintaining adequate moisture levels, turning, or aerating the compost pile is no longer a concern.
- The kitchen waste is added directly to the soil and right by the roots, the exact area it can be beneficial to plants.
- Unlike some forms of composting, trench composting is practically invisible and allowed in almost all communities.
Traditional Trench Composting Method
As mentioned, trench composting is the method of burying home organic waste directly into the garden’s soil. This is a much simpler process than traditional composting methods and allows gardeners to include a larger selection of kitchen wastes.
In fact, trench composting avoids many of the unwanted parts of traditional composting like smells, attracting insects, attracting rodents, etc. Most importantly, all that is really needed to do this process is a shovel.
The most common way for gardeners to trench compost is to dig a trench area about 12 to 18 inches deep by 12 to 18 inches wide. Pack the trench with garden wastes, leaves, and more up to the surface level of the garden bed. Then, cover the waste back over with soil and the composting will begin.
After a few months, either turn the decomposed trench material onto the top of the garden beds or you can plant directly into the trench itself. This process can be repeated in various areas of the garden over and over again. However, it is important to remember the exact location of these trenches as this style of composting does take some time.
Less Invasive Trench Composting Method
The one problem that many gardeners have with this style of composting is that it can be invasive to the garden itself. On average, it is not recommended to overwork the dirt, as too much tilling can disrupt garden soil life. Luckily, there are less invasive options that can achieve the same overall result with just a tiny bit more work on your part. (Do Not Disturb!)
One way to do this less invasively is to create a skinnier yet deep trench by moving a shovel back and forth down a line in the garden area.
Then, blend up any kitchen scraps you are hoping to compost by throwing them in the food processor or blender. Ground-up eggshells can also be added to this mix to add extra calcium to your soil!
Then, pour the blended-up food into this smaller trench and cover it up. This is a less invasive process and some of the composting work has already begun by blending the food.
When to Use Trench Composting in Your Garden?
Another huge benefit of using trench composting in your garden is because you can do it practically any time of the year. Many opt for trenching in late fall which guarantees the soil is ready for any heaving feeding spring and summer plants. However, trenching will build up the nutrients of the soil any time of year.
Planting into a Compost Trench
As mentioned, one of the only negatives that comes with trenching is that it can take longer for materials to break down. If you are trenching in an area that has well-drained and humus-rich soil, you can expect the breakdown to take around two to three months. In poorly drained soils, this process can be extended even up to a year.
Of course, the main reason behind trenching compost is to improve the quality of the soil for future planting, which is why you may be wondering how long it takes before you can plant into an area that has been trenched. Conventionally, you should wait several months before ever planting into a trench.
What Items Can be Composted?
The beauty of trench composting is that it allows practically any kitchen scraps to be composted effectively. However, there are some materials that can be very beneficial to a garden and provide even more nutrients. Some examples of these are:
- Eggshells – Crushed eggshells can improve the drainage of the soil and they give added calcium to the soil which can promote plant growth. To add eggshells to compost, simply wash them out, dry them, and then crush them down into smaller pieces. A food processor or coffee grinder can also be used to break up the eggshells into a fine powder which will break down even more quickly.
- Coffee Grounds – Coffee grounds are something most people throw away daily, but they can be very useful for composting. This is a great addition in areas of acid-loving plants like roses, blueberries, hydrangeas, etc. Also, this is a great way to naturally detract slugs and snails, as they tend to avoid the smell of coffee while attracting earthworms.
- Banana Peels – It is not advised to throw an entire banana peel into the garden. It should at least be cut into smaller pieces beforehand. However, once broken down, they can add potassium, calcium, magnesium and other nutrients to the soil.
- Vegetable peelings, salad greens and other scrapings – These wastes are often plentiful and abundantly available to add to trenches. This makes adding them to compost that much more amazing! Reusing something that would otherwise be sent to the landfill is a great practice!
- Citrus Peels – These can be added to trenches as a way to ward off any unwanted cats from your gardens. As most gardeners know, cats love to dig in gardens, sometimes even ruining good plants. Adding citrus causes them to be turned away by the smell.
What Items Should be Avoided?
As mentioned, practically any kitchen waste can be added to a trench compost, but some items should be avoided or used with caution in a garden. These include:
- Coal or charcoal ash – this can be harmful to plants
- Fat, grease, oil, etc. – this can attract pests and create odors
- Meat or fish bones and scraps – these can be added to compost, but should be done very sparingly.
- Yard trimmings that have pesticides – if pesticides have been used on your yard at some point, avoid putting any of these clippings in the garden. These chemicals can be spread to plants.
- Dog and cat waste – these can contain parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. that can be dangerous to humans.
Check out Our Favorite Products page to find everything you might need to help make your garden a success!