Direct Compost Update

Earlier I wrote a popular post referring to Direct Compost, this method was introduced to me from my grandmother when I was a kid. Many had never heard of it and my goal was to share a simpler way to compost instead of using traditional compost bins.

Since then her awesome idea has been implemented by gardeners everywhere and this style of composting has become a very helpful tool.

There were a lot of great questions since publishing that first article and it’s my hope with each reply I’ve been able to assist appropriately.

This led me to revisit the topic by breaking things down into very basic steps.   I also wrote a printable for those who want this information in a easy to follow format.  That printable can be found here and our growing inventory of helpful garden printables are listed here.

Worms in the Garden

Direct Composting Welcomes the Worms

Direct Composting is an invitation to welcome worms to the garden.  It’s always great to let nature work for you, don’t you agree?

How do the worms help?  They eat food waste as a meal and when it passes through their system it becomes compost.  This turns soil into a beautiful loam with a wonderful easy to work texture.

If you’re working with clay soil this may take 2 or 3 years to experience which makes it even more important to feed soil on a regular basis.

Soil needs to be fed before, during after each planting season.  This is why I love direct composting, apply this method year-round and you will notice a huge improvement and the worms will never leave.

Using additional natural materials to amend soil is also good practice.  Learn more here.

Food Waste and Direct Compost

Compost is a combination of all kitchen food waste, including chicken bones.  Let me explain before you think I’ve completely gone mad.  Food waste in our home mainly consists of fruit or vegetable pieces like potato peels, carrot shavings, banana peels, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and the list goes on.

I also incorporate citrus peels because they add a nice scent and because they take a while to decompose I dig them a little deeper.

Chicken and fish bones carry calcium which is very good for the soil.  The only difficulty is they also take longer to decompose so make sure to dig them deeper and cover up.

Dealing with Dogs, Predators and Rodents

A garden fence will keep most the dogs and predators out of your garden.  This is why I incorporated a fence because my dogs love digging up my compost.

During the winter I was presented with some type of rodent digging up waste.  I never figured out what it was but decided to add a heavy stone on top of newly buried compost.

This worked like a charm so I’m guessing it was something small.  Direct compost in my garden decomposes in about 2 weeks and because I’m adding compost weekly I just move that stone each time.

How Long to Decompose?

Our covered raised bed was a great source for keeping critters visiting to dig. This is one of my favorite projects because it solved additional common garden issues.

Decomposition really depends when you established your garden.  As I mentioned in my original article it can be days if you already have active worm activity.

Expect anywhere from one – two weeks for common food waste to turn into compost and don’t be surprised when you dig the next hole if you uncover heavy worm activity.

Depending on how deprived the soil may be it could take longer than two weeks. once the worms show up they stick around and you’ll begin to notice the perks of gardening in a simplistic yet natural way.

Things like bones, egg shells, and thick peelings will always take longer.

Garden Printables


When Do You Compost?

I direct compost year round in my vegetable and flower beds.  This takes place in raised beds that are resting and growing.

I don’t grow my vegetables in tight spaces which makes this tip easy to implement.  In conjunction with composting I also use animal fertilizer from our farm, mainly llama, chicken and sheep droppings.

Direct Composting isn’t a complicated system; it’s a matter of digging a hole, dumping your waste and covering it up.  Now doesn’t that sound like a great way to add nutrients to your garden?

Get this one step to direct composting your garden to create amazing soil. It's easier than you might think and so very simple. #GardenCompost, #Composting, #Foodwaste

We're Helping Others Do More


  1. Anonymous says:

    hi – I've been doing this for several years now, since I moved into "town." so far it's been great – definitely see more worms over time. –suz in ohio

    1. That's awesome! I love it for my garden and thankful my grandma took the time to share this tip with me years ago. I shared that story in the original article last year. Hope you have a great weekend. -Carole

  2. Karen says:

    This is such a practical and effective way to compost. I don't fully understand why we don't hear more about it in the composting community. I bought a nice stainless steel compost pail (with charcoal filter) last month and it sits on the kitchen counter. No smells, no mess – and my children are getting in the habit of using it. When it's filled, out to the raised bed I go and bury it. Nothing but simple! I'm already seeing more worms – fat, happy ones.
    I doubt I'll ever build/use a traditional compost pile again.

    1. Hello Karen, We don't hear more about it because it's simplistic, it's unfortunate the gardening community in general tends to over verbalize the act of growing. This is why so many new gardener's fail and fear the process. The process is all about feeding the soil and watching it evolve as it matures. It's a slow process much like anything that is great. Happy Composting, glad you moved forward with it. -Carole

  3. daisy g says:

    We keep a recycled plastic coffee bin in our freezer with our scraps. When it gets full, we bury it out in the garden. It's an easy way to add nutrients to the garden without having a compost pile. It works great for us!

    1. Hello Daisy – Keeping the scraps in the freezer is a great idea. I might have to give that a whirl during the summer months. Check back tomorrow I'm talking about llama fertilizer and then I think that might be enough about the soil for awhile. 🙂 Hope you enjoyed a nice weekend. -Carole

  4. TwoPlusCute says:

    Brownthumber here, I like the practicality of this composting method.
    I do need to get a few raised beds to start but I will definitely try it once I do.

    1. I love brown thumbs and so glad you stopped by. Feel welcome to use my blog as a gardening resource and if I can help answer any questions let me know. I have many articles on the Gardening page – I share simplistic tips to help new and established gardeners. Hope you have a great week. -Carole

  5. Great informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Suzanne says:

    I have been doing this for years and the worms arrive almost immediately (I’m in Australia). One thing that I noticed is that you said that you also put citrus into your mix. I’ve always been told not to use citrus. If citrus is OK I would be thrilled. Please let me know if I read correctly.
    Many thanks

    1. Carole says:

      I do add citrus to my soil and I know gardeners everywhere say it’s a huge no no. My grandma always did it so I followed her lead and the results have been amazing, it also makes the soil smell really nice. Some worms though won’t eat them so that’s why it’s a big no no and preferred to just dump in a traditional bin. My thought is, what’s the difference if they decay in a bin or dirt?

      1. Suzanne says:

        Thanks so much for your reply Carole.
        Best wishes,

  7. I had researched online on how to build a compost bin. I took an old large plastic trash bin with an attached lid, drilled a bunch of holes about 3 inches apart through the sides and bottom. I then placed the bin about a third deep in a hole my husband dug for me. I added Sandy soil, emphasis on the Sandy, as that is what I have to work with here. I have now started adding fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and the occasional shredded paper. I added leftover fishing worms. I am buying more worms today to add. Which are better, night crawlers or red worms? What else can I add for the compost to be successful?

    1. Carole says:

      So night crawlers are closely related to red worms. I actually prefer good old fashioned earth worms if you do a little bit of this direct composting they’ll actually show up and you could add some to your bin. There are suggestions in this article on what to compost and I also have a Direct Compost printable you may enjoy. Hope that helps!

  8. Jen says:

    Two questions… do you bury yard waste as well, like grass and weeds, tree branches?

    I do a lot of container gardening for my vegies, how should I compost for that application?

    1. Carole says:

      For containers it can get a little tricky especially if they’re small. When I use the direct application in containers it’s normally during transplanting or setting up new pots. I just add it to the bottom of the container, drill large holes toss in a few worms and go on with filling and planting. The holes are so the worms can leave once the food is decomposed.

      You could bury yard waste but I use those materials when I establish new raised beds. This year I used leaves for mulch and it worked fantastic.

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