How to Trench Compost

How to Trench Compost

Here’s the short answer…dig a trench, throw plant scraps in it, then cover it up.

It’s a shortcut to composting. Normally you would create a pile either in the backyard in a corner or in a compost bin. You mix green and brown materials together, water, turn and wait several weeks for the material to decompose before using it as fertilizer.

Traditional composting takes more time and has extra steps in it. I like the directness of trench composting. You bury the plant material (future compost) directly under the soil you’re going to plant vegetables in. It’s straight forward with the same results.

Trench Composting

Here’s one of my trench composting sites in my backyard next to one of my vegetable gardens. I threw some pieces of carrots in this trench. I’ll mix it with more plant material before covering it up.

Trench Composting close up

The depth of the trench doesn’t matter too much but it should be at least 4 – 5 inches deep and 9-12 inches is even better. It needs to be deep enough to prevent it from drying out. You want it to be moist so that bacteria, microbes and worms will be attracted to it. Bacteria and insects help decompose plant matter. I water my trench composts daily. In about 3 months they will be totally decomposed. This makes fantastic fertilizer for plants.

You can start planting on top of a trench compost anytime but I usually wait about 30 – 60 days and then cover the top with 2-3 inches of mulch. Then I plants seeds. The mulch keeps the soil moist and cooler. Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days every time.

Trench composting not only enriches the soil but also keeps the soil from getting hard and rock-like. It allows water and air to get into the soil. Your plants will love it.