Sunday, December 07, 2014

The effect of compost. Kitchen garden winter prep. 12.7.14

Untreated soil vs. soil with 2 1/2 years of compost and TLC.

Garden gold.  Chick house cleanings for the kitchen garden.
 Today I did some cleanup and winter prep for next Spring.  I don't like seeing the raised beds full of dead tomato and pepper plants and weeds and bean stalks.

Several of the raised beds have settled significantly.  I topped the off with soil from this raised bed.  That used 2/3 of the bed's soil.  The other 1/3 is perennial - Chinese chive, which I consolidated from this raised bed and another.

The difference is soil appearance is dramatic.  The native soil, on the left, is what the enriched soil, on the right, looked like 2  1/2 years ago.  The difference is 2 /12 years of adding chicken house compost, leaves, kitchen scrap compost, worm compost, coffee grounds....

I filled partially full with yard soil, then mixed in a wheelbarrow full of chicken house cleanings.  That is a year old, but dry so not composted.  Too rich to use immediately.  This being December, there will be 5 or 6 months to mellow before use.  Plan for this area is bush beans.

I also added a cup of lime based on last year's soil test result showing low pH and low calcium.

Then I topped off with more yard soil, then more chicken house cleanings.  Let the earthworms and bacteria and fungi do their thing now. 

Several of the beds are cleaned up now.  When spring comes, prep for planting will need minimal effort.

The other thing that needs to be done for these beds is better animal fencing.  That is another project for this winter.

For the beds that I topped off, I removed the larger, tougher plant stems to go into the compost heap.  I covered the cardboard/grass clipping mulch with a layer of improved soil.  No major digging, the soil is already well aerated and rich.
Cleanup half done.  12.7.14

My kitchen garden in winter.  12.7.14


  1. Wonderful photo of garden during down time. Digging is over rated; I let the worms do the work for me and of course you need to feed them or they will be angry and ran off. I'm the lazy sort who believe in "gardening without an aching back." Have you ever heard of Scott and Helen Nearing? They are people ahead of their time. The book is out of print and hard to find.
    I bury my kitchen scraps under a heavy terra cotta pot to deter the mice. Most of the time it works except the coon turn the pot over. In 2 weeks all the scraps gone and the particular spot full of worms while other part of the yard without the scarps is hard clay and low nutrient no worm or any critters.
    I just have to put up with the mice because I don't want to use D-con since I have a cat that visit me often. I have too many potted orchids for the mice to hid outside and if I forget to close the door behind me they can sneak in.

  2. How interesting - I have not read the Nearings. I checked Amazon, nothing on e-books but there are used ones.

    I used to bury kitchen scraps - I think some call it "trench composting". You make a good point - the earthworms love that method and it really enriches the soil.

    I don't know the best approach for mice. Some people are against traps, others think they are OK.