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Composting in Situ

October 18th, 2016

Earlier this summer I talked about my experiments with composting in place in the garden. Since they were such a great success, I decided to continue using this method since it saves tons of time. As I’ve been cleaning out the main garden I have been building giant compost piles at the lower end of the garden. This area is much lower than the rest of the garden and the soil needs to be built up about a foot or 18 inches to help level the garden a bit. Eventually, there will be large rocks put in place here to hold back the soil and improve water runoff issues in the garden.
Instead of hauling in topsoil, I decided it was easiest to take the patient way and simply start building up this lower end of the garden with compost. I now have a rather large compost pile that is growing larger and longer by the day. At the moment it’s about four feet wide, three feet tall, and fifteen feet long. Eventually it will span the entire length of the garden at seventy feet. Next year I will plant pumpkins and squashes on these pile to help compost them down even more, then they will be raked out a bit and more will be built here if the soil level needs to be increased. I love this method because I don’t have to turn and maintain compost piles and I don’t have to bring in soil from elsewhere to increase the level. Overall, it’s a win/win because it saves me tons of time and labor.

What time/labor saving methods have you discovered recently?

5 Comments to “Composting in Situ”
  1. Nebraska Dave on October 18, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Susy, as you know I use carpet in my pathways in the garden. It suppresses the weed growth but doesn’t eliminate it. I’ve learned this year the best way to deal with weeds growing up through the pathway carpet is to just turn it over and put the weed growth down and the root side up. It works really well and doesn’t really take that long to do. It was a great discovery. Carpet never seems to deteriorate. I have carpet in my garden that is five years old and still not sign of deterioration.

    Have a great composting day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  2. Justin on October 18, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I think this is a great idea. I’ve decided to try “hugelkultur,” myself, which is a very similar process. We always have lots of sticks to pick-up and I’ve never had a really good way to dispose of them. We also have loads of leaves every year and I’ve tried traditional compost piles, but I just can’t seem to get them “cooking” just right and I don’t have the time to really tend to them.

    Hugelkultur seems like a good solution because I can just build a pile where I want a bed, rather than lugging everything to the back field where I keep the compost piles and then lugging the finished compost back. Seems like a win-win if it works. I’ve already started a small pile near the fence where I’ve been trying to start a fruit (berries, grapes) garden.

    Recently, we had some tree work done and there’s a garden in the back I tried to open a couple of years ago that was shaded by the trees and didn’t work out so well. Now that it’s more open, I’m going to start building two long hugelkultur rows in that garden and see if I can’t re-open it again. Maybe I can try putting the squash and pumpkins back there and see if they do better. That’s a great idea!

    Reply to Justin's comment

  3. Joan on October 19, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I often put (seedless) weeds that I’ve pulled around my asparagus as mulch. Works great, and saves having to buy straw!

    Reply to Joan's comment

  4. Betty Jo on October 23, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I’m so thankful for this post, Susy. Deciding what to do about composting has been a huge question for me. I had recently read of making a cold compost pile, and now have read both your articles. I garden in the community garden, in a small half-size plot. My only compost option (I can’t compost in my yard as I rent in a small trailer park where it isn’t allowed) has been to throw my compost materials onto the community compost pile, which isn’t maintained, basically neglected. It amounts to throwing the materials away. I think I’m going to use a small corner of my garden, maybe 4′ x 4′ and start my own personal compost pile there and see if that will work for me. You’ve inspired me to at least try.

    Reply to Betty Jo's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      I hope it works well for you, my zucchini LOVED it this year!

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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