Trench composting is a composting method that enables you to use those kitchen scraps to build your soil without building a big compost pile. Unlike me, who built the composting palace to end all composting palaces, you simply trench your scraps into the ground. Basically, dig a trench and pile the scraps in.
Trench composting can also be used to enrich the soil between rows of crops. For example, if you’ve got rows spaced far enough apart, you can dig a V-shaped trench and layer compost scraps inside. As long as the fresh materials aren’t near the roots of your plants, trench composting around growing crops should be fine.
What should you add to your trench system?
- Vegetable peels, such as potato peels, carrot peels
- Grass clippings
- Banana peels, apple cores
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
One word of warning, thought. Trench composting isn’t a good idea if you have dogs. Curious dogs dig up the compost and may even eat the materials. Cats love to dig it up, too.
As with most compost systems, avoid adding cooked foods, bread, salad oils, bones and any food products that will attract vermin. Don’t add dog, cat or other carnivore manures.
Trench Composting Explained
Source: Fix.com Blog
So will you try trench composting this year? I’ve tried it throughout my garden with limited success. I think part of the problem is that I didn’t keep it up for long enough. It did help with some of my raised beds, though, and I think this method, in addition to regular soil testing and adding amendments, can improve soil quality. I also neglected to move the trench as the graphic shows. I sort of layered everything into one big pit. Moving the trench does help the materials decompose over time, which will build your soil.
This technique offers yet another soil-building method that keeps wastes out of the landfills and helps support a health soil ecosystem.
Let me know your thoughts on trench composting in the comments section!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.