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Old October 19, 2018   #1
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Philly 7A
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Default My ramblings on composting.

October 19th, 2018


My ramblings on composting.

Kitchen waste. What is kitchen waste? If you ask me, kitchen waste is uneaten food bits that get tossed in the trash and make it's way to a landfill. I have very minimal kitchen waste, I do however have plenty of Kitchen scraps. What are Kitchen scraps? I consider kitchen scraps a recycled material not waste, because it is not waste, it is a renewable resource.

I religiously compost and have been composting in a compost bin for some years now, after some serious thought I decided I wanted something even easier than my current lazy composting regiment. I won't go into what I compost, but let's just say I compost a lot more items than the average person, however this article is about my method of composting not what I compost.

I decided in lieu of bin composting I would try "in situ" composting, so this past growing season I have been doing a lot of "composting in place" and so far it has worked out pretty well.

I wouldn't consider this "trench composting", because frankly I'm not digging a trench. I have heard it cleverly referred to as "Cathole Composting", "Dig and Drop Composting" and "Direct Composting".

I practice no till, and "in-situ" composting is the only time the soil is disturbed other than planting.

I simply dig in my kitchen scraps between the plants during the growing season, mark the area, then move onto the next area. I have even gently moved the mulch aside, tossed kitchen scraps directly on top of the soil and slid the mulch back.

When my Hugelkultur beds were really starting to settle, some pockets/voids opened up and I would tuck my scraps and trimmings into these voids.

Even when the beds are planted heavily with cover crops in the fall, I still can find a place for the kitchen scraps.

Now here is where it gets a bit fuzzy between composting and mulching.

Stuff like fresh yard trimmings and subpar veggies get tossed back on top of the bed during the growing season. In the winter if there's snow on the beds, I just toss kitchen scraps on top and cover with snow, sometimes I dont even cover the kitchen scraps. If the beds are frozen solid, I just toss the scraps on top of the bed. I will also do this with Bio-char, Rabbit manure, animal bedding and coffee grounds (also ashes, but I consider ashes a fertilizer).

I would consider this practice, mulching. So to be clear, if scraps are under the mulch layer and in direct contact (slightly soil covered) or under the soil, I consider it compost, if the scraps are above the soil line, I consider it a mulch. There, that was easy, wasn't it?

Here is a quick example of a few piles of Kitchen Scraps for compost topped with Coffee grounds and yard trimmings for a mulch.

I pushed aside some mulch, dug in three compost holes around my apple trees, covered with soil, slid the mulch back then topped with coffee grounds and some trimmed shrubs.

Is it better than bin composting? It doesn't matter! What matters is, there is no wrong way to compost for the obvious reasons that you are using a renewable resource and keeping it out of a landfill.

Time will tell if this will be my final composting method.

Disclaimer. All the above under "Composting" is based on personal experience and no testing in labs have been done.

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Old October 19, 2018   #2
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Location: Southeastern PA
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I have a compost pile on the ground at home and it works quite well but we also have a vacation cabin that we use on weekends. 2 years ago I made 3 small raised beds at the cabin so that I can grow my garlic there and I also grow one tomato plant.

I dig small holes as described above and add my kitchen waste to the hole and cover it.

Just this past weekend I noticed that these beds are starting to be filled with earthworms so they are obviously enjoying the fresh veggies and coffee grounds.
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Old October 19, 2018   #3
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Location: New Mexico
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I think your method is fine and if the results you posts are evidence, it must be quite fine. A couple of issues with the method of using scraps as mulch are: don't critters get your scraps when they are on top?, and, too much nitrogen might be going into the soil from fresh scraps breaking down. As I said, your results speak for themselves so I wouldn't fix something that ain't broke.
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Old October 19, 2018   #4
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Philly 7A
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Critters don't seem to be a problem. Yet!
Nitrogen being tied up doesn't seem to be a problem, or at least I can't tell.
I'm at the point where I'm tired of worrying about the possible outcomes, good or bad.
I plant and if nothing grows, I always have the beer Meister that doesn't seem to be bothered by weather or soil issues.
This up coming year, I'm putting my worries in the trash!
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Old October 20, 2018   #5
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Location: Saumarez Ponds, NSW, Australia
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Originally Posted by SQWIBB View Post
This up coming year, I'm putting my worries in the trash!
Best place for them!

I have a compost heap but I don’t turn it. Way too much work. When it gets big enough I leave it and start another. In a year, maybe less, I start using the ‘finished’ pile. The compost might grow a few weeds but I just add them to the current pile, or drop them for mulch where they were cut.

Last edited by Raymondo; October 20, 2018 at 06:19 AM.
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Old October 20, 2018   #6
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Location: Williamsburg VA Zone 7b
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I used to have huge compost bins - but you need to move it all! So I compost or mulch in place too. Fall leaves go between my raised and hugelbeets (beds). In Fall, they get scooped right on top of the beds. Kitchen leftovers are either buried or dumped on open beds depending on how lazy I am that day!

Love it.

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Old December 20, 2018   #7
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Interesting. I also compost every scrap of kitchen waste. My workmates think I’m nuts for bringing home apple cores, etc. So be it.
I have a screened off area behind my fruit trees so I set up vermicomposting in 30 gallon fabric grow pots. I did a good amount of dig and drop also but the resident possum must have been watching...and digging up what I buried. He/she will occasionally get into the vermicompost bins and make a mess. What works now is that I put the raw kitchen waste into the sealed tumbler for a couple of weeks, then either into the worm bins or just dig and drop. I guess taking the edge off is enough to deter the critters- no more dug up compost.
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Old April 23, 2019   #8
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Philly 7A
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Composting in place has been working pretty good for kitchen scraps, I am still using my compost bin also.

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