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Trench Composting ~ Does it Work?

I read about trench composting, making trenches bewteen your rows and filling it in with your kitchen scraps and burying it throughout the year. Has anyone tried this? I would think you would have the neighborhood dogs digging up your yard, not the mention the hog that gets loose down our street and at times gets into our garbage..seriously!
 
~Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...it's about learning to dance in the rain.
I do that, since I haven't composted in a few years.

My mom does it all the time, since she doesn't compost either. It is kind of interesting, organic produce decomposes faster.

My mom has a fenced garden, so she just gets squirrels etc. in her yard, nothing digs it up.

Come to think of it, I don't think I have done it in my unfenced flower garden...just the veggie garden which is fenced.

So I am not sure about attracting large animals.

I did read once that if you do TRUE trench composting, so LOTS of scraps in the garden, that you maybe aren't supposed to plant edibles right on it for over a year.

Not sure though...too many cobwebs in the brain.

I just tuck in the scraps in the bare spots in the garden and don't worry about it. The earthworms love it.
 
Alaskan (gardening in zones 2 to 5) (*SPRING* avatar...Spring scheduled for May 7th)
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I know several people who do it successfully. I seldom seem to have enough bare space to do it. HOwever I have done it early in the season. the secret is to buryit deeply enough that the animals can't detect it. A post hole auger works for this in limited space.
 
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Trench composting is, if you really think about it, where "Lasaga Gardening" came from, but with the "lasagna" system the stuff is put above the soil rather than under it. Essentially they are the same thing.
I did some years back do the trench composting thing and found it to be far more work than anything else because you need to dig the trench (hard work), fill it (not so hard), and then cover the trench (hard work). I never had a problem with the wild critters, much less neighborhood dogs, digging up what I buried, although hogs do tend to root voraciously.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Both a compost pile and a trench can easily be torn up by wandering animals that smell things that entice.

I've done both compost piles and trench composting, and find the trenching method to be very little work. It takes all of 5 minutes to dig a trench 5 feet long. It takes a week or longer to fill that open area, then about 5 minutes to cover the kitchen waste with some dirt and smooth it out. Very easy, very simple.

It takes little room to do trenching. You make your trenches where you want your garden to be. You can even make a trench between rows of vegetables. If you want to plant directly on top of the trenched area, wait about 2 months so things rot away.
 
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If you have an enclosed area, I can see where this would be a good thing. Where I am, too many possums, raccoons, skunks, unleased dogs (besides, most of the critters can climb fences or dig under it). One reason I like the compost tumbler, nothing can get to it. But having to dig down to bury, not something I would want to do. I'd rather dump a wheelbarrow full of finished compost onto the ground. All of this year's stuff, will be next year's compost anyway.
 
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I had raised beds torn into the couple of times I've dug kitchen scraps into the beds. So kitchen waste goes into the compost bins. It can be a good use of garden space such as between rows of large plants but not if critters will rip into it.

Other compostables such as garden waste should pose few problems. I'd think twice about burying it very deeply into your soil if the aim is to leave it there. Compost should be incorporated into the top few inches of soil only where it will do the most good.

Wayne
 

Adirondackgardener

Mainegardener

Trying out Northeast PA.

 

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I have a large garden, so each year I dedicate a portion of it to kitchen and garden scarps. I don't bother trenching the stuff in, however, I just toss it on the surface starting in late fall all the way through the following year. Then in late fall I till everything in and start a new section. I've planted right into the "scrap" section the following spring with no problems that I could see. Other than a stray dog we don't have any animal problems here, and I've never had a problem with the dogs bothering things.
It works for me.
 

There's plenty of room for all God's creatures.......................right next to the mashed potatoes.

 

The high Utah Desert---Zone 3 to 5

(it's a crap shoot every year)

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I usually use a pretty long spade, make a hole, and dump stuff in.

So that means it is about 8 inches deep maybe.

Composts fine at that level, even here where it never gets warm.

I am sure that what you stuff in there is a large factor in if it gets dug up.

The more I think about it, I actually have put some in the unfenced flower garden. Nothing dug it up. But the time I fertilized with blood meal, BIG mistake. Roll Eyes
 
Alaskan (gardening in zones 2 to 5) (*SPRING* avatar...Spring scheduled for May 7th)
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Blood meal?? I know I used that one last year, and the dog had a cow every time I picked up the bag to take it outside. It's as if she thought I was going to give her a steak or something. She doesn't go free, so didn't have her dig up anything. Is that what you dealt with Alaskan?
 
~Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...it's about learning to dance in the rain.
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yep....it was a dog magnet...I had used it on some bulbs.

Supposedly it draws voles and other rodents too.
 
Alaskan (gardening in zones 2 to 5) (*SPRING* avatar...Spring scheduled for May 7th)
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EH&G, I do that with woody stems and sticks that take forever. But they can attract termites, which isn't helpful, but pouring lots of urine (nitrogen) on them hastens the process and no self-respecting termite would go near them! Smiler

I just had a possum dig up some stuff, and yanked out the transplants at the same time, that wasn't very helpful. I will coat it all with urine after this, and that is the best animal message sender there is!

My problem with burying kitchen scraps directly is with mice and packrats that not only take it away, but they multiply, which is real trouble. I compost the scraps first in closed garbage cans, laying with 3 inches of organic matter (dead and green leaves, grass, slow compost, etc.) for every inch of kitchen scraps. In six months I can put it out on top of the soil as compost and I keep it damp with a final layer of straw or dead mown weeds/grass.
 
---------------------- Life goes on within you and without you - George Harrison
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When I did trench compost I did not have any problem with any "critters", including our dog, digging in that planting bed. Where I have seen that to be a problem is where the material was not covered with enough soil, an inch or two is not nearly enough to keep those critters away.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Trench composting actually works better for me than any other method. My compost pile tends to get so dried out that things just petrify instead of decomposing. Burying scraps solves that problem. During the summer, I just dig as I go. But, when fall comes, if I don't remember to dig a trench before the ground freezes, then I'm back to dumping on the compost pile.

The last two years I've forgotten to dig a trench. Last winter I dumped scraps in 5 gallon buckets. When spring came, I just dumped soil on top of the scraps and planted flowers in the buckets. The flowers were some of the most spectacular I've grown in years. This year I'm doing much the same thing, only with truck tires. Before someone takes me to task for planting in chemical laden tires, I won't be planting veggies in the tires, just flowers.

There are half a dozen dogs that run loose in the neighborhood and I don't have any trouble with them digging things up. They will rummage thru the compost pile or eat scraps that I haven't covered up, but once things are covered with soil, they leave it alone.
 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bloom where you are planted.

Zone 4 Central South Dakota

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I do it in preparation for planting single fruit trees, especially in my lawn which only has about an inch of topsoil before a hard clay/silt layer. Aside from that I use two black plastic compost bins for all my kitchen waste including bones which breakdown for about a year before I use it.
When I use it I always put it where I want my selfsown pumpkins to grow.
 
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