The soil is hungry
Growing up on the farm, swear I saw Father taste the soil. Have not inherited that practice but your bloggeur does like to get down and dirty. Back in the day, we had a real live compost pile on the back 40 here at Blaska Experimental Work Farm (and Penal Colony). Every fall the unlettered field hands ran the rototiller over the pile to aerate the discarded kitchen waste. Come spring the rich black soil would be spread over the garden and (especially) the asparagus beds. (Noticed first spears Wednesday 04-28-21).
Sometimes. Then came various construction projects. Pottery-quality clay from the post holes for the privacy fence, leftover gravel, and god knows what else (not that He cares) got dumped on the pile. Let me know if you need free fill.
‘As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.’ — Chauncey Gardner.
These days we throw our banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, and flower stems directly onto the garden. Even cardboard toilet paper tubes, cut into strips. Almost everything but meat and cat poop. Clean chicken bones? Sure. Over the winter that stuff goes into a bin just outside the back kitchen door. Come March, its stinky contents are thrown onto the soil, then promptly tilled in with our Stihl KombiSystem (one powerhead takes attachments to till, trim hedges, whack weeds, edge sidewalks, prune bushes, etc.)
Who peed on the peas?
We have also taken to mulching our plantings with with straw or marsh hay, so that gets tilled in, too. Yes, we do fertilize; vegetables get fish emulsion; flowers get the commercial fertilizers.
We think it’s beautiful
Direct composting saves time and labor. Tilling grinds up the kitchen refuse and straw and aerates the soil to allow the bacteria and earth worms to do their thing. Yeah, they got to breathe, too. The garden waste itself creates porosity to accept rainwater and oxygen. We do sprinkle a little urine into the watering can to add nitrogen, which aids decomposition. (Coffee grounds, grass clippings, and vegetable waste are full of nitrogen while leaves, straw, and cardboard are higher in carbon.) We obtain the urine from a trusted source and prolific producer. Human pee has an NPK ratio of 11-1-2. In comparison, blood meal is 12-2-1 and cottonseed meal is 7-2-2.
We will avoid the mistake we commited last May when we doused the emerging pole beans with urine that was insufficiently diluted. A little dab ‘ll do ya. But we are a bit more liberal (pardon the expression) with our mid-April dousing of the kitchen waste. The purpose being to break down the organic matter.
We throw down a wide board on which to walk at planting time and weeding to avoid compacting the soil. As the growing season progresses, we can usually find a fallow corner to toss the free soil additives or bury in a shallow trench between rows. Failing that, the backdoor bin can be emptied onto the spent garden in late fall, followed by more tilling. In past autumns, we tilled in fallen tree leaves but most recently used them as mulch.
Blaska’s Bottom Row: Have to say, our normally clayey soil is now rich as chocolate cake batter and fluffy as angel food cake. The roots say thank you.