Three Gardening Tips to Streamline Your Composting Chores

These three easy gardening tips are designed to combine your composting chores with your garden watering, harvesting, weeding and mowing chores. They cut chores before they even hit the to do list. The result compost in the garden right where you want and need it without all the hauling of material, turning of piles and then hauling the compost back.

That's important for someone like me. I want to compost absolutely everything that I can and get the compost out onto my garden beds. But I’m terrible at hauling stuff around. I need gardening and composting to fit seamlessly into my everyday and sometimes physically challenging life.

Each of these easy gardening tips combines an important garden task in a way that automatically makes compost and leaves it gently in place to do its magic.  They are multitaskers, accomplishing two or three garden jobs at once. They are effective during the growing season. In the fall and through the winter you may want to shift to a more traditional compost method.

Easy composting through the growing season three ways:
    •    The Kitchen Compost Pail Waters the Garden
    •    Weed and Feed with Weeds for Mulch
    •    Let Your Grass Clippings Fall Where They May

Gardening Tip #1

Kim from California recently asked...

My mom and I recently started to compost our food scraps in her garden. We haven't bought any compost bins or anything. My mom just keeps all the food scraps in a bucket, and when its full, she simply dumps it next to some of her growing plants. I've read everywhere online that compost should be buried so I'm not sure about her method. Is this an effective way of composting? Does this pose any harms to the environment?

The Kitchen Compost Pail Waters the Garden

The short answer to Kim's question is Yes! This is an effective way of composting. The only problem I could see would be if you live in an area with bears. Then you might have to adjust and use a bin or bury the material.

My grandmother used to harvest dinner into an old enameled washbasin. Carrot tops were left between the rows as were the outer leaves of the lettuce - you get the idea.

This is Like the Tub my Nana Used to Harvest Dinner and then Clean the Vegetables

Inside, the basin was filled with water to wash the harvest. The peelings, the scrapings from the dinner plates, cooking water and tea dregs were all collected into the water in the basin.  After dinner she would toss the whole works over any thirsty garden plants accomplishing both watering and a kind of composting at the same time.

Up till a few years ago I had forgotten my grandmother's habit of tossing the slop bucket into the garden. My definition of composting had become so rigid. To me compost was something made deliberately in a bin or a pile and laboriously turned and sifted and applied...

Then I met a young woman who confessed that she did not compost but did help her grandmother. She then described my grandmother's method, right down to the chipped enamel wash basin - what I think of as the toss the slop onto the garden method.

This method might break all your rules but if you really look at it It mimics nature's way of applying thin layers of plant and animal material directly onto the soil surface. It has the happy side effect of conserving water and handling part of the watering chore.

In developing countries often small farms have a home garden along with their fields. Here the gardens near the house are often several fold more productive than crops in the field. The difference is largely that the food wastes and food preparation water is dumped on the garden every day. A super easy gardening tip that feeds the world.

Gardening Tip #2

Weed and Feed with Weeds for Mulch

Remember how my grandmother twisted the tops off the carrots and left them in the garden. This is a variation on that theme. It is also a common way of weeding for those using no dig or no till gardening methods.

As you weed the garden just clip the weeds off near the soil and place them more or less where they were growing. I say clip rather than pull as the idea is to leave the roots in the soil and just clip off the tops of the weeds. Pulling and digging weeds tends to disturb the soil. When the soil is disturbed weed seeds, formerly buried deep enough to be unable to germinate, are kicked up into a germination friendly zone and you get a little flush of weeds everywhere the soil has been cultivated.

As you do your other gardening chores such as dead heading flowers, thinning rows, removing dead plants and other debris just lay it all down on top of the soil. You'll save the extra work of carrying this material to the compost pile. As well, the garden debris will act as a mulch, reducing weeds and conserving water. They will feed the garden too as they break down into humus right where you need it.

Gardening Tip #3

Let the Grass Clippings Fall Where They May

f you have a lawn mowing it is one of your chores. You also have the chore of taking care of it. Here in my town most people collect their grass clippings, bag them up, load the bags into their cars and drive them to the rec plex.

At the rec plex everyone empties their bags and dumps them into a really big pile. The town then loads them into large trucks destined for a compost facility at the landfill about 10 kilometers away. Then we all drive out to the landfill to buy compost. Which reminds me of a Joke.

I started grass cycling three years ago. Grass cycling is simply a matter of leaving the grass clippings on the lawn instead of collecting, bagging and either disposing of them or composting them. 

When I started to do this I went out a bought a special mulching blade for my lawn mower. To be honest, I have never installed it. It takes me less than half the time to mow the lawn now. I just let the clippings fall onto the grass. Within a day they sink into the lawn and start decomposing. This saves me a ton - literally, those grass clippings were heavy - of work, a lot of time, and also reduces my lawn's needs for water and fertilizer.

Here's a link for more tips on composting grass clippings.

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