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 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.”
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.
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
Implementing Direct Composting
- 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.
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.
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.