Any of you just love compost piles? Most of my backyard is flower beds That calls for a lot of compost. The only thing I’m worse at than growing vegetables is making compost. I’m a complete failure.
One of my favorite gardeners is Felder Rushing. Felder says there are only two rules for composting…1-stop throwing it away, 2-pile it up. So I bought some nifty compost bins to pile everything up in. I tried for two years Believe me, I tried…no compost. The stuff just set there. I put in green stuff. I put in brown stuff. I added coffee grounds and egg shells, etc., etc. It laughed at me… I went to Lowe’s and bought $300.00 worth of compost. My warm, fuzzy, emotional side said my beds finally looked great! My logical left brain said I was crazy. My checkbook moaned.
I’ve read many articles on composting. Apparently there is an alternative method. It’s called composting in place. I keep a large coffee can on my counter. I fill it with potato peelings, leftover fruit, the afore mentioned coffee grounds and egg shells and other appropriate kitchen wastes. According to this alternative method, when the can is full, I should dig a hole in the flower bed and just bury it. Not the can of course, just the contents. One major advantage to this is, if it doesn’t work, I’ve at least buried the evidence.
Well, this year I’m trying something new. It’s a cross between composting in place and no dig weeding. I couldn’t keep up with my gardening for a couple years, and in some areas the weeds and briars had a hey day! This year I’ve killed myself trying to catch up. After a while, I realized I wasn’t going to fix everything in one year. So…I collected a ton of cardboard boxes. I then put the lawnmower in several of the beds and mowed down all the weeds and briars (best to do this just before your lawnmower blade needs replacing). I sprinkled a thin layer of grass clippings over the areas and added some really good fertilizer I got from Teresa…courtesy of her pony. Then I added some kitchen wastes and other essential elements. I tore apart the cardboard boxes and laid them down flat over this concoction. Lastly, I covered everything with a thick layer of pine straw. At any time I can lift up a section of cardboard and toss in some more goodies. These beds now look great….and hey, I’m all about looking good in the garden.
This method prevents light getting to the weeds and hopefully kills them off humanely. It also feeds the soil. Next year my beds should be weed free, the soil should be richer, and I’ll be ready to plant. I’ve got nothing to lose. If it works, I’m way ahead. If it doesn’t work, I can still pull those weeds and briars next year. However, I’m very optimistic….what could go wrong???
PS: Follow up next year!