Okay. I made dirt. Black gold, I call it. Compost from my garden clippings and waste from autumn of last year.
Oh I have the double sided compost tumbler, which I just love. But it only takes wee bits at a time, and that equals all the kitchen veggie and fruit cuttings throughout the year. What I wanted was an area that could handle all the garden waste, without having to build anything special (because I’m lazy and live in an urban area without room to create something new).
Being a lover of compost, I knew it couldn’t be difficult, because all your compost pile needs is time. Air. Moisture. Free goodies from Mother Nature. For the skeptics out there, I didn’t even really follow any layering rules, because I simply had too much to dump in a very short period of time, that being last fall.
In the backyard alone I have 56 planting containers — most have at least one perennial, but the remainder of the designs is annual. It was a LOT of material to dump. So I literally ripped out all the annuals and started heaping them in a pile at the side of the house. It’s about 5 feet by 2 feet, so it ended up being a very tall pile. Against a wooden fence, which did give me pause, but I did it anyway.
When my neighbour cuts his grass he always leaves rows of dead cut grass, which I greedily raked up and threw on the pile as well. That’s about as scientific as I got.
I did NOT include any food clippings in there, so as not to invite any little critters. The wasted plants were were dumped directly on soil, so I figured the worms would help out, and they did. (If you’re wondering about leaves, each fall we shred them, and use as mulch on the gardens — none ended up in the open compost pile.)
I wish I had a picture from last autumn, because it did look a mess. Everything lumped together – usurped asparagus ferns intermingled with coleus and house plants I no longer wanted to overwinter. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. It would be my own little experiment, perhaps never to be repeated.
But oh boy! You wouldn’t believe how fast Mother Nature works. This spring the pile was one third of the size of last fall. Now, in late June, it’s one eighth of the size it began as, all crumbly and lovely. Yes, there’s still the odd stick in there, but I’m pretty pleased with myself, calling the hubby to ‘come out and see what I made’! Luckily for him, he was duly impressed.
I haven’t used any yet as I want it to age more, and yep, I’m adding more to it every day. Deadheading perennials, and garden clean up, just NO weeds. Weeds go directly into the brown bags for roadside pick up.
The only complaint about adding annuals and houseplants to note is this: you will have those little Styrofoam thingys in there, there’s just no way around it. But, it feeds all of my container plants, so it’s not a worry for me.
The compost from the black tumbler also feeds my containers every spring, as I re-use the same potting soil (homemade mix) every year (even though the potted soil people say not to). I’m a rebel. I have years old perennials that still come up every spring trapped in those containers. So that’s their big spring feed. Then each month I water them with compost ‘tea’, which is a simple matter of mixing some of your lovely compost with water (I do it in a blue bin), letting it ‘brew’, and watering with the brew.
So. Yes. You. Can.