TENDING THE SOIL
Your garden is not much more than a reflection of your soil. Composting all weeds, plant leftovers, veggie kitchen waste, leaves from oak trees, grasses turned to hay, layered with dirt from your garden will pay you back. This natural recycling returns nutrients to the soil and encourages microbial growth both which in turn foster healthier plants into the future. Humus will also be formed in the pile thereby improving any soil type once applied. A healthy vibrant soil ensures an equally healthy vibrant garden.
The need for fertilization is greatly reduced by consistently applying compost to the garden beds with each new planting. I like to use 1/2” or less of cured compost across the top of each finished bed and mix it in with a spading fork right before I plant. This step is the final step of a process which begins with the first layer of a new compost pile.
Composting is a key component of any organic or biodynamic garden.
A compost pile is simple to build.
First turn or aerate the dirt where the pile is going to by built. Then put woody growth (sunflower stalks, corn stalks, thistle plants on the bottom of the pile. Next a layer of dry hay or other dried plant material goes on top of the first layer. Next kitchen waste and fresh garden waste are laid on top of the dry materials. Then add a thin layer dirt from your garden and wet it all with water. I will then add another layer of hay or cut grass on top to trap moisture in the pile. Repeat... It is that simple.
Bucket of compost ready for the garden bed
Keeping it simple by adding about 1 to 2 inches for the dry and wet plant layers makes it easy. Then by covering the dry and wet plant layers with dirt from your garden the microbes from your existing soil are introduced to the compost pile. This allows them to reproduce and multiply on all the things making up the pile. Nice.Then just keep repeating the layers in this order dry-wet-dirt until it becomes broken down and ready to use. To apply it just dig out from the bottom to the pile and you will have some rich compost to improve your soil.
Minimum size for a righteous heat generating pile is about 4 feet square by 4 feet tall, but hard to accomplish when first starting out. Start a pile even if it isn’t that big at first. This fall is a good time to start your compost pile using all waste from your current garden so it will be ready to use next spring. Be patient let the sun, rain, and microbial elements do their work, in each pile. After 3 years my pile is a constantly expanding work in progress with layers regularly being added a little at a time. Slow, steady and consistent work is the way to gardening success.
Aerated garden bed with compost added ready for veggies, flowers, cannabis or berries to be planted
When time comes to apply the prepared compost, resist the temptation to spread the stuff too thinly to cover more area in the garden. Start small, even just one bed, do it right and then expand one bed or so at a time. Before you know it you will be supplementing your meals from your own thriving organic garden year round.