Direct Compost – Grandma’s Golden Garden Tip

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Growing up I learned a lot from my grandma and I reference her often on the blog.

I believe one of the best gardening tips she ever shared with me was how to direct compost.  Have you heard of it?  It’s really nothing new or innovative; it’s simply common sense and getting back to basics.

This post includes photos from Grandma’s home, a place that was like my home too because I spent most weekends and summers here.

We shared many neat moments together that have now become memories from the heart.

Grandma’s front yard Rockery, this was amazing in person.

Grandma had two ways of composting, like most she used a bin that could be found at the end of her garden.  She tossed grass clippings, non edible food, rabbit droppings, coffee grounds and the list goes on.

If you couldn’t eat it then it went in the compost, sound familiar?

In the summer this was an area in the garden I preferred avoiding.  Mainly because it attracted bees and I just didn’t like the smell.  You can imagine with all the combination of food, rabbit pellets and rotting grass it was something any child would want to resist, especially during the summer.

I remember one afternoon she asked me, “why don’t you like spending time in the garden?”  I hesitated because I didn’t want to disappoint, but I saw my chance to speak up.

Without hesitation I blurted out, “It smells and there’s too many bees.”  I will never forget the look on her face and instead of telling me that was disrespectful she stopped and asked me to explain.

I pointed to the compost bin and told her I didn’t like it and the bees were mean.  It was a simple explanation for a kid.

Grandma was smart because she saw an opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson.  She began sharing the importance of giving back to the soil and honestly I thought this discussion would never end and I’m pretty sure I had to catch myself from day dreaming.

When she finished I understood what she was saying but I asked, isn’t there an easier way to take care of the soil?”  She smiled and told me to grab a shovel.

Off I went and that was when I was introduced to “Direct Composting.”

Grandma’s wood shed, I loved that building…

Digging the Hole

She told me to dig 3 holes in a row and once I finished I was to go to the kitchen and get the bucket under the sink.

That bucket was full of food waste because she canned a lot during the summer and fall so you can imagine this bucket was full all the time.  We were always taking it to the garden for her.

I was directed to dump a little waste into each hole, then cover it with dirt and leave the shovel in that same row for next time.

Basically we were composting in a walk space because the garden was in full bloom.  Placing the shovel reminded us where we left off and not to walk.

Pretty smart I thought.

Grandma loved her roses, I think they reminded her of a really good childhood friend.

A Week Later

A week later I was back at Grandma’s house and guess what?  There was more compost to bury.

The work never ended at her home and I’m thankful because I learned so much. At the time though I wasn’t always thrilled, I would have been happier sitting in the kitchen eating homemade bread with the best Italian salami and cheese one could ask for.

Chores came first and so did another lesson so off to the garden we went.

She asked me to dig up what we buried last week where I discovered worms and the compost was gone and the soil was fluffy just like she said it would be.

While I dug the next couple of holes she explained the process in a very simply and it made sense.

In My Garden

To this day I remember the simplicity in what she was teaching me.  There was no need for fancy words because these real life explanations  were easy to understand.

Quite often she would say, “We’re called to do our part and take care of where we live”  and she was right.

Thanks to this lesson, I’ve never had a compost bin. I continue to direct compost our food waste experiencing amazing results in conjunction with animal manure and natural matter found around the farm.

It’s funny because when I tell people I don’t have a compost bin they look at me as if I’m crazy and pretty much roll their eyes.   I always respond with sharing these little insights:

  • It saves time
  • It welcomes the worms
  • I can do this year round
  • The soil is amazing – even in Texas!
  • Look at the results

This area was not far from her kitchen and a neat outdoor sitting space.

Implementing Direct Composting

If you want to try direct composting but you’re not sure if it will work, remember these tips, they apply to small spaces too.
  • Bury year round – I even bury in flower beds.
  • When the garden is in full bloom bury in the walk paths or empty spaces.
  • Use a shovel or stick to mark where you left off.
  • Once you’ve circled your garden then go back to where you began and do it all over again.
  • If you have dogs – They will dig it up so prepare for that, I use a heavy stone to cover.
How you compost is definitely a personal choice and I would completely agree that you have to do what works for you.
I like to keep my gardening as natural and simple as possible.   Kind of like my grandma I guess because I like to let the earth do the work for me.

I can see every day that God created this land in a perfectly and if we care for it according to his rules instead of trying to impose our control we can experience some pretty amazing results.

Not perfect but amazing because in all we do there is learning, it’s what this life is all about.

Where grandma’s garden use to be, I miss that planting area…

Great Memories

Eventually grandma got rid of her compost bin and only used the direct compost method, I like to think maybe I had something to do with that but it never occurred me to ask.

As she aged the garden area was turned into a grassy sitting area and vegetable planting was included in some of her flower beds to decrease her workload.  Fresh veggies she no longer grew came from my mom’s garden because we are a family that shares.

All of these pictures are from her yard many years ago and the last one is where her veggie garden was.

Sometimes it’s difficult to capture the beauty of older photographs but I think you can see that grandma loved her yard, it was home.

I have great memories here and every time I direct compost I smile feeling pretty blessed for so many neat memories.

Learn more about here in my Direct Compost Update – a must read because it’s more of a tutorial than a story like I’ve written here.



I don’t think I will ever stop missing her and I’m so thankful for all the love she brought into my life.

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  1. Peggy says:

    Tried to sign up for work Book… but the link would not work…

  2. Peggy says:

    I live in the Country… have been composting for years….direct composting and in debri pile with worms…Wild animals have found my piles and made havoc in flower beds and my worm debri pile…I have a small fenced in garden to no avail….Have tried Everything except a barrel or bin….(I just thru away buckets of compost…..? …). As I cannot continue to maintain the mess an destruction of my garden and flower beds…and of course concerned about our property being the wild animal party destination….we have Grands and family pets…..(We have heard wild pigs (saw one on outskirt of our property…last week) Have not been able to pin point the scavengers..we think we have quit a variety. I have tried putting down Flour to get seems these Vermints are intelligent and not frightened by lights…human presence or my Pyrenees…the animals dig straight down rather deep (2/3 feet in occasions) they move cardboard…bricks…heavy plastic …leaving behind any seeds and/or paper items that are not broken down..(and leaving no evidence on cardboard…or plastic ..they just seem to move barrier and dig under…Wow. No droppings have been found) We have used tape…CDs..scarecrows…better fencing…bricks.. cement blocks….dogs….yard clippings (leaves…weeds..hay..straw..purchased dirt and shavings to cover any smells) to no avail…hope you have some thoughts….they have gotten u. The habit of frequenting my beds next to my home and porch….it is like they remember …even if they don’t detect any fresh smells ..
    SAD in Pelion SC

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Peggy,
      I would recommend going to your County Agriculture extension office and get their advice. Reason begin because your area is different than ours and the wild hogs may have different habits. Without knowing your area any advice I may give may make the problem worse, I’m in North Texas just moved to an area where hogs are bad but so far haven’t experienced any issues. They tend to be more interested in the farm fields around us. Taller Raised beds have been a blessing in my garden.
      Check out this post I shared Friday:

      I can also understand your frustration but don’t get down, hang in there and let that AG office help you – that’s what they’re there for. -Carole

  3. Heidi says:

    What a great idea! I think I’m going to give direct composting a try, and I have the perfect spot to start! I’m so glad I read this helpful article. Right now we have a huge compost bin that’s always about 3/4 full (we have horses). I think the direct composting might be easier with our veggies from the kitchen!

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Heidi -You’re going to love it. You may also enjoy the Direct Compost Update here >>
      I love this method it works so fast.

  4. Justin B. says:

    Composting is such an important topic when it comes to gardening and the work it takes pays dividends. I've noticed that worms in great numbers seek out the compost piles when you add good ingredients.

    1. Completely agree composting is important – I use the direct compost approach along with animal fertilizer like Llama and sheep. Chickens go along doing their own fertilizing as they free range our farm. We have an abundance of worms and often joke we could start a worm farm. I recently wrote Direct Compost Update – You may find that article of interest too. Hope you have a great day -Carole

  5. Terry says:

    I am going ato try this as soon as all the snow melts I will start. I have just used a compost pile and it seems to take forever to break down. I did rototill all of our leaves in the garden last fall and hope that helps.

    1. Tillers are a blessing – I love mine! you will like the direct compost the worm activity it brings is amazing and you'll notice a huge difference in your soil in one season. It's a beautiful thing. I hear Spring is around the corner. 🙂

  6. How do you apply the peppermint oil? Dilute in a spray bottle?

    1. On small mounds I add 3 drops of oil to one cup of water and pour on the mound.

  7. Just found you when I was at Spring Mountain Living. THANK YOU for sharing about direct composting. We are in Central Mississippi and the Yazoo clay is proliferate. We have fire ants here and have to treat or they will take over, I have found them in my garden. The worms do not like the Ortho Max we put out to kill the ants. Is there a worm friendly alternative? Thank you

    1. We have fire ants here too – I use peppermint oil to deal with them. I don't use chemicals of any kind in my garden, I find when you rotate crop planting the bad bugs go away and the good ones show up.

  8. Peascod says:

    I just found your blog and have spent most of the afternoon browsing through it…one page led to another! So packed with powerful and easy to understand information and incorporate it in my gardening. I have a question or two or a thousand 😉 about direct composting. I am a novice gardener and had a small strip of dirt next to the foundation of my house where a hedge had been for many years. 2 years ago I pulled the hedge up and last summer I planted tomatoes on one end and cucumbers on the other end. Neither did too well, I think the dirt needs some nourishing. This year I left it fallow. I am disabled with back problems and can't handle regular composting, but I think I could handle the little holes as described. Now my question…I have no dogs, but have squirrels, a raccoon, and of course country mice around my yard…not as pets though. Will they dig up the compost? If so, how to prepare for it to prevent it?

    My second question….oh shoot I can't remember it…distractions and my memory don't go well these days! Anyway thank you so much for all your generosity in sharing your knowledge. I subscribed so I look forward to getting your posts in my email box!

    1. Direct composting in the space you mentioned should be a breeze. Raccoon's might be a problem so when you bury the compost lay some chicken wire on top after you bury and place some bricks over it to keep the wire from moving. This should keep them from digging it up. You probably only need to keep it covered for about a week. Worm activity will happen fast and you'll be amazed at how quickly your soil turns. If you can get your hands on some rabbit, llama or horse droppings that would be another great addition. Careful though because sometimes it can also bring weeds. Thanks so much for subscribing and I'm glad you had fun browsing through. That made me smile! I just got in from watering my garden so this comment was a great way to close my gardening day. I love questions and if I can help with anything please feel comfortable asking. Enjoy a Great weekend -Carole

  9. Composting is such a fantastic idea for the garden…thank you for linking up to Fishtail Cottage's Garden Party this week! xoox, tracie

  10. What a neat method! Thanks for posting about it!

    1. Thanks! It's pretty old school but it works great! -Carole

  11. Jessica Lane says:

    What a brilliant idea. I've always done the three bin approach, but this seems much easier. Thanks for taking the time to share this on The 104 Homestead Friday Blog Hop!

    1. What's that saying, "Grandma knows best?" I always loved the simplicity of my Grandma's lessons. I've only composted this way and the results have always been great. -Carole

  12. Marla Gates says:

    Hi Carole, I have chosen your post Direct Compost for one of my feature posts on Real Food Friday Blog Hop. I thought it was well worth sharing. Thanks for sharing with Real Food Friday Blog Hop. Marla @

    1. Awesome – Thanks Marla! I will get a banner up tomorrow and make sure to share the hop on facebook and G+
      Always nice to have you stop by! -Carole

  13. I have never thought of direct composting. Your Grandma sounds like a wonderful woman and reminds me of my own. Not only informative, but also a lovely post. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

    Please join us again Thursday at:


    1. Thanks for stopping by and I guess you could say direct composting is old school. My grandma was awesome and I'm really fortunate that she shared so much with me. Sometimes I feel like I lived the depression days with her. You're welcome to follow love to have you! -Carole

  14. daisy g says:

    Fabulous post! I direct compost as well, since we presently live in a deed-restricted neighborhood. I like your grandma's system much better than what I'm doing. Thanks for the idea!

    1. Your welcome and thanks for stopping by. I love gardening but if you can simplify and still get better results than why not. Have a Great day! -Carole

  15. I love this idea, we use a no til method, I suppose we could just bury it in the soil we use, but how long does it take before you can plant? Our garden has not been doing good, and I think adding some compost would help. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist, would love for you to share Thursday at 7 central on Real Food Fridays. Pinned to my organic gardening board, and featuring your post on tomorrow's link up.

    1. You can plant about a month afterwards. However you can do both at the same time as long as you don't plant where you put compost. Hope that helps! -Carole

  16. Wonderful post! Composting is such a great thing to do. I'm going to send the link to this post to my son in law who wants to start composting! Thanks for sharing at TTF!

    1. Thank you Linda! Always nice to have you stop by and share. Awesome I hope it helps him out, keeping things simple is grand! Blessings – Carole

  17. Marla says:

    Great post Carole! Its amazing how we see things as a child. You garden looks beautiful too – your Grandma teaching was well worth it. Composting is very important and I agree with you that you have to find you own way and what works for you. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Friday.

    1. Well thank you Marla, it's nice to have you here! That picture was from my grandma's garden, I sure miss that place, after she passed away it was sold and it has really gone down hill since those days. I'll share more from my gardens once things start coming alive after this cold winter, my sheep even trimmed the roses for me today. I'm blessed with a lot of space! Real food Friday is great! -Carole

  18. Great post. I should try this more often as an experiment with different plants.

    In case you have a not-so-pleasant smelling traditional compost pile you need to fix, it's almost always due to anaerobic decomposition. Usually the culprit is a wet slimy mat of stuck together leaves, or way too many food scraps or other Nitrogen compared to not enough Carbon materials. The fix is to break up those matted spots and turn everything so it can aerate. Or in the case of too many Nitrogen materials, be sure to cover everything with Carbon.

    Always love seeing good information on Composting! Thanks!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it – I guess I'm more of a simplistic gardener. Direct compost is exciting because you see instant results in your soil. Digging up a hole and finding at least 6 worms each time is pretty grand. Thanks for stopping by – always nice to hear from the readers! -Carole

  19. Kathi says:

    What a wonderful post! Your grandma was a very wise woman.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

    1. Thank you Kathi – Very wise woman and I'm blessed that I had so many years with when I was younger. She taught me so much, she had a realistic mindset with a heart for nice things too. Pretty neat! -Carole

  20. Kristi says:

    What a lovely post! I've not direct composted my food, but I think it's a GREAT idea. Do you think it would work to compost around trees?

    We mostly have hay and rabbit/chicken manure, so I often will compost directly into an open bed and let it do its work there. Keeping compost piles is hard for me in that I can't really handle the heavy work without the help from my husband (he doesn't mind, I just hate asking), so direct composting of any kind makes a lot of sense to me.

    Love your bits about your grandmother—they are so special, and the things they teach us seem to stay in our hearts and minds forever, to pass on to our own grands. I can't wait. 🙂

    ~Kristi from The Mind to Homestead

    1. Hello Kristi always nice to hear from you. 🙂 It would work it in around young trees so you're not digging into the root system, it's also great in the flower beds. Rabbit manure is amazing what a blessing for your plants! I really like the simplicity of direct composting – watching the earth work for you is amazing! My grandma was special and had a huge influence in my life. My kids have been blessed with all these little lessons and I can only hope they keep them going. 🙂 Carole

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