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Trench Composting

Dirt_shovel_2 I haven’t seen this done much here in America, but in England (where it seems everyone is a skilled gardener), they like to do “Trench Composting”. They dig a shallow trench in an area to be planted later. Then, they throw in compost-friendly kitchen waste such as banana peels, coffee grinds, vegetables scraps, etc. Then they cover it with a few inches of soil and water it. In a few months, they plant vegetables directly over the trench and as the plants send out roots, they find the composted treasure and are nourished with the rich nutrients it left behind.

It sounds good to me..unless you have wildlife or a chocolate lab (who thinks she is “wildlife”) that will dig up the treasure and have themselves a feast. I guess you could park a few rocks or other heavy objects over the trench while it works its magic to keep any critters at bay. People who do this method of composting rave about the amount of earthworms drawn to the area and how rich the soil gets in a short amount of time. If any one out there has tried this, let me know how it worked for you.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • Helen says:

    i love your nasterium story it make me laugh out loud!!!!

  • This trench composting sounds like a great idea. Have you tried it since you wrote this post last July?

  • Nope. I haven’t tried it yet because I’m worried that my dog will dig it up! I guess I could experiment in a corner with a rock over the area. Maybe I will try that in the spring.

    How about you? Are you going to try it? If you do, come back and give us an update!

    • JE McManus says:

      Theresa – Forget the rock and go for a boulder. You may be shocked at your dog’s resourcefulness in moving the monolith style “obstructions” placed over even a small, experimental, pit style compost bin in the yard. The irony here is I could freely offer my pack some of the items in pre-buried form and they’d put their collective noses up in the air, but buried, it was gold and they were pirates set on looting. I am now working on an open compost bin that is outside of our fenced yard. New to gardening but learning quickly that just tilling the ground and adding a bit of fertilizer isn’t necessarily a good start. I’ve partitioned off what would have been an 8 x 8 planted area and am using it exclusively to enrich soil for future plantings.

  • Laurie says:

    I love the idea of trenched compost!

    Once the trenched compost was in place, I’d probably cover the are with chicken wire either pinned or weighted down. That should also help keep kitty from using the area as a litter box.

    Because moles can be a problem for us, I’d first line the trench with chicken wire before adding my compost ingredients and soil.

  • Great idea Laurie.

    The chicken wire should take care of the moles and any other underground critters.

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