My younger daughter has a fixation with digging holes at the moment. So before she turns the allotment into a lunar landscape with deep craters everywhere, I thought we’d channel her enthusiasm into something productive.
I’ve been meaning to try trench composting for a while, partly because it sounds a lot simpler than other composting methods. Essentially you dig a hole, bury some kitchen scraps, cover them with soil and wait. And that’s it. No turning the compost heap, no watering if it dries out, and no need to move the finished compost from the heap to the growing area.
We collected vegetable peelings and uncooked food waste for a week and popped them in a hole that was supposed to be about 30cm deep, but I suspect was nearer 20cm. We went for a circle instead of a rectangular trench as we plan to plant a wigwam of climbing beans on the site a little later this season. I’ve read that you can add cooked food waste to a trench composting system but I can’t help thinking that would be an open invitation to all the foxes in the neighbourhood.
I have no idea how long the composting process will take although some people report a noticeable breakdown of the trench contents in just a couple of weeks. The process is anaerobic (i.e. not using oxygen) compared to aerobic decomposition in the more usual compost heap – hence the reason regular compost heaps need to be turned when composting slows down; to add more oxygen.
If it works, this could be a great composting approach for the allotment which has lots of bare soil for several months of the year and hungry crops to support. We’ll dig down again in a few weeks to assess what’s happening and report back.