Direct Composting Done Easy

Use direct composting, and discover the simple way to feed your garden.

| July/August 2016

  • Composting becomes even easier without compost bins.
    Photo by David Liebman
  • Burying the compost directly in the garden bed reduces time and energy spent.
    Photo by Carole West
  • Vegetable plants still get the same benefits of traditional composting methods.
    Photo by Carole West
  • Worm composting is in full effect with plenty of kitchen scraps to chow down on.
    Photo by Lowe

For me, gardening began as a child. During the summer, the majority of my days were spent at Grandma’s house. I was her gardening companion. Her gardening space was amazing. Everywhere you looked, something wonderful was growing – flowers, fruit trees, shrubs and fresh vegetables. Her home was a gardener’s paradise.

One of my least favorite chores at her house was taking the compost to the garden. She canned a lot of produce and kept a bucket of fruit and vegetable peelings under the sink. When the bucket was full, it was sent to the garden to be dumped into a compost bin. The bin smelled and attracted all types of bees. (I had a fear of being stung.) This chore turned into me running to the garden, sometimes falling, and compost going everywhere. I would often ask, “Why do we have to toss garbage in a box?” In a hurry, she would say it was good for the garden. Then one day she smiled and said, “Go get a shovel.” That was the day Grandma introduced me to direct composting.

Method to the madness

The method of direct compost is very simple: It’s a matter of taking food scraps to the garden, digging a hole, filling it with the food waste, and covering it back up. When Grandma introduced me to this method, I was stunned. Why had we not been doing this all along? It kept me away from the bin, and I got to play in the dirt. Because of my enthusiasm toward this alternative to the bin method, Grandma let me direct compost in her garden from that day forward.

The first step in direct composting is to understand which type of foods can be composted and a way to store them before they go out to the garden. I live in a warm climate, and this led me to choose a smaller canister with an airtight seal. This keeps odors locked inside and means frequent visits to the garden.

There is some variation to what gardeners believe can be composted. From my years of experience, the following has proven to be successful in every garden I’ve had the pleasure of establishing: fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings (raw or cooked), egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags with tags removed, and poultry and fish bones.

When the canister is full, you visit the garden with a shovel in hand. Where you bury the compost will depend on your garden setup. I like to start in one corner and slowly work my way around the entire garden. Because I currently use raised beds, this is a simple system.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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