When you don't have the option of composting in a bin or pile, there are still a few things you can do to make compost and enrich your soil. We've talked before about vermicomposting, which is a great option and allows you to make compost even if you don't have a yard. And I'm a big fan of trench composting, which is an excellent way to compost food scraps if your community doesn't allow them in traditional compost piles.
But the drawback of trench composting is that it requires an empty spot in the garden. It works very well in vegetable garden beds, either when the season is over or if you're able to carefully dig trenches between rows of veggies, and is beneficial in beds where you only plant annuals. In the off-season, you are able to compost and enrich the soil, and the plants will grow that much better the following year.
But what if there is no "off-season?" What if you don't have a big empty garden bed to dig trenches into? Many gardeners focus on perennial plants and trying to dig a trench in an established perennial garden or mixed border is an exercise in futility.
Dig and Drop Composting
This is where what I like to call "Dig and Drop" composting is a huge help. The method couldn't be simpler:
- Dig a hole, approximately ten to twelve inches deep and as wide as you want or need it to be.
- Drop food scraps or other organic matter into the hole.
- Replace the soil, and you're done.
Dig and Drop composting is a good solution for the busy gardener because you don't have to worry about harvesting the compost. The organic matter breaks down right in the garden, and the resulting compost enriches the soil and provides nutrients to nearby plants. I find that the easiest way to do this is to collect the food scraps from my kitchen in a bowl, then go out at the end of the day and bury them in my garden. This way, you don't have to worry about digging large holes -- a small hole will accommodate all of the food scraps produced by an average family over the course of a day.
Things to Keep in Mind
Be careful when digging around plant roots. Try to dig your hole several inches away from the crowns of your plants to ensure that you don't damage the root systems when digging.
Bury food scraps deep to deter pests. Dig your hole at least ten inches deep.
Don't bury meat or dairy. This is a sure way to entice dogs and rodents into your garden.
As you can see, this is a very simple method that improves your soil and enables you to make use of your food scraps with very little work.