Don’t have the time or space for a compost pile? You can still grow a wonderful organic garden with these non-composting tips!
Compost is a wonderful way to grow healthy, strong, and productive plants. That said, composting does have some drawbacks.
- It takes time (months, or sometimes even years, depending on your climate and available materials) to make good finished compost.
- It takes space – something that you might not have much of, especially if you’re an urban gardener.
- Composting at least has the stigma (only earned if not done properly) of being a stinky, messy process, and some municipalities or certain neighborhoods may not allow it.
If any (or all) of these drawbacks are preventing you from making your own compost, don’t despair! You can still grow a beautiful, healthy, and organic garden without having a big compost pile.
Below are some “non-composting” strategies from The Urban Farm for gardeners who may not have the time or available space to make traditional compost:
My favorite way of non-composting is to feed it to the chickens. I know, your first reaction is “I can’t keep chickens in my yard.” Now I am not talking about roosters, just hens and they are very easy to keep, are effective at weeding and controlling bugs, they eat your kitchen and yard scraps, provide lots of great compost material, and give you the added bonus of the occasional egg or two for your breakfast enjoyment.
Now if you aren’t quite up for keeping chickens, you might try worms, which are much more innocuous. They do their own kind of digging, provide their own kind of manure and do a really good job of munching on your kitchen scraps. They are as easy to keep as putting a bucket under your sink with some shredded newspapers and worms. Or, you can add an old bathtub in some corner of your yard and vermicompost away (the fancy word for worm composting).
One of my favorite methods of non-composting is called lasagna gardening. It is a process by which you build the soil in your garden and compost at the same time. The name says it all. Start by putting down a layer of dry material usually 1 to 3 inches deep. I like using dried leaves, hay or straw. Then add a layer of manure to facilitate the slow composting, then another layer of dry material and manure. You can add layers to your heart’s content and if you want to plant right away, dig a little hole, add some soil and plant. Over the course of a few months the layers break down and create awesome slow-cooked composted soil. The added bonus, is that you can take your kitchen scraps and tuck them into the lasagna garden and let nature take over.