Monday, February 14, 2011

The Compost Hole Method, Part 1

This post explores a variation of the technique originally described in this blog way back in 2006, "A Simple Garden Routine - useful for bad backs, no time, short budgets." The primary difference being that the photos show using the method with seeds planted in place, rather than starting with seedlings started inside. This little technique has come to be called "the compost hole method" by my friends, for lack of a better term.

Before we get down to the compost, I thought I would share some photos of a garden grown with this technique. Every plant you see in this picture, started out over or next to a compost hole--including the trees.

All the photos are from my garden in Hoopa, CA, where I lived for over a decade. The photo to the left is a detail from the border pictured above. At the bottom of the photos is a cross between red Russian Kale and an ornamental cabbage. At the top is ruby red chard. Both beautiful, both edible.

On the right is another detail from the same border, pictured is another crossed kale, as well as some parsnips, and violas.

On the left is another detail from the same border. Pictured is giant red Japanese mustard. All these pictures were taken on 5.17.08. Now we can move on to the compost method these plants where grown by.

Below, you see the first step in creating an incredibly productive and diverse garden. Choose a spot and dig a hole. You want your hole to be at least 12 inches deep, and no more than 18 inches. This keeps your compostables in the biologically active zone, so they will properly decompose and not leach nutrients into the ground water.

Below is step two, add between a quart and two quarts of compostables to your hole. Don't compact them, as the air spaces are important for providing oxygen and habitat for the nutrient cycling soil organisms.

Next, comes step three, below. You can add the grass or weeds that your removed when you started digging your hole. Just bury them deep enough that they can't grow, either at the bottom of the hole, or upside down right over the compost. Many beneficial organisms will be in the soil around the roots of the grass and weeds. They will help cycle the nutrients in the buried organic matter.

Step four: crumble a shallow layer of dirt loosely over the compostables, weeds, and grass. (Below)

Step five, below: sweep your floor, gather fall leaves or twigs, tear up junk mail. Animal hair for instance, or even human hair is a great addition. It tends to discourage rodents, it adds slow release nitrogen, and it helps keep the soil from compacting--which allows it to breathe and provides plenty of habitat for soil microorganisms to colonize.

Continued at the link:

All text and photos Copyrighted, 2011, Harvest McCampbell

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