Creating a Compost Trench

Creating a Compost Trench

I’m not saying to forget about your compost heap, this is just another method and has its pros and cons. We still recommend using a compost bin from our fabulous range of products, see this method as another string to your bow. It’s excellent for peas and beans and heavy feeders like cabbage and courgettes.

The material will break down more slowly and is not really suitable for wet waterlogged ground. On the plus side the process uses anaerobic (without oxygen) decomposition which retains more nitrogen than ordinary aerobic composting. You can also include meat, dairy and bread which are normally excluded from your compost heap.

Trench composting is very simple. You dig a trench (I’m using the word “trench” loosely here; it doesn't matter what shape your hole is) approximately twelve inches deep, add roughly four to six inches of compostable materials, such as kitchen scraps, spent garden plants, prunings, thinnings, and weeds, and bury it with the soil you dug out of the trench. The matertial will need to break down in the ground over the winter and should not be planted on for 3/4 months.

A compost trench

Why Would I Want to Compost in Trenches? Maybe the best reason to compost in trenches is that it makes composting so simple. You don't have to worry about maintaining adequate moisture levels, or aerating, or sifting the way you do with a compost pile. Here are a couple reasons to give trench composting a try:

It gives plants nutrition right where they need it: at the root zone. Plant roots will make their way down deeper into the soil in search of the nutrition that you have buried there. So, the plant will be healthier in two ways: it will be nourished from the organic matter in the trench and it will develop a deeper, stronger root system. This means the plant will be better able to cope with dry conditions and heat, and will require less help from the gardener.

It is invisible and will not produce odours. One of the issues many people have with composting is trying to figure out where in the garden to put a compost pile. While there are plenty of small-space composting solutions, trench composting completely eliminates this issue because you can bury waste anywhere you have an open bit of space in your garden. And, because it's buried under several inches of soil, even the smelliest kitchen waste won't be an issue.

It's perfect for legumes. Deep rooted peas and beans will love the nitrogen in the rotted material, trench composting is a traditional way of feeding the legume family the following year.