Feed The Earth

The key to vigorous plant growth in a vegetable garden is healthy soil. Imagine the plight of those amazing seeds you have planted. Once they germinate, they expand and send out roots. What environment will they meet, hard clay or light, fertile earth? Your crops will be hardy if your soil is healthy. Garden soil needs tending.

Add Compost To The Garden

The cheapest (and easiest) way to improve and nourish your garden soil is to add compost, lots of itCompost is decayed organic matter that loosens and aerates the soil, and provides nutrients for plants and bugs.

Make your own compost.

Find a sunny 'out of the way' spot for a compost pile. Directly on the dirt, pile up leaves and grass clippings. Add crushed eggshells, tea and coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, thin layers of ash, weeds and flowers without seeds (stay away from quack grass, too),  and generous handfuls of dirt, to assist with the breakdown process. 

A compost pile needs air and water to get the bacteria in the organic matter to heat up and decompose. Sprinkle water on the pile during dry spells. It needs to be moist, but not soggy. Turn with a pitch fork every few weeks to reduce smell and add oxygen. Collect leaves in autumn and save kitchen scraps all year. Autumn garden refuse, fallen crabapples, grass clippings all can be placed in the compost pile. 

Our compost heap is in the corner of the garden, where it is left to brew and degrade slowly. Every 2 years we dig down into the compost pile and spread several inches of the fine, fertile degraded mix onto the garden. The organic matter that is not fully composted goes back into the pile.  

Quietly and sweetly composting away in the corner of the garden.
Over time, our crops have improved and garden earth is lighter.  Seeds sprout up with ease and roots can spread out. Weeds are easier to pull up and the ground is readily cultivated. Earthworms can move around. Water will drain down into the earth but the soil will still hold some moisture. Plants get nutrients from the compost and from the natural clays in the soil.

Father Time and Mother Earth....

So, instead of sending banana peels to the landfill, put them into a small container with a tight lid in the kitchen, and toss them into the compost pile every few days. Add leaves, dirt, water and air and wait. Time will break down these ingredients into a brown, light mix perfect for the garden. In cold climates, wait a year or two for this magic. Because heat helps organic matter to breakdown, in a colder climate, the composting process may take more than one season. A larger pile will heat up and compost faster, but take up more space.

(Bonus: anything growing near the compost pile will be robust... see the rhubard beside the compost pile)