Trench Composting

I am experimenting with different ways of composting. The traditional way of having large compost bins can be sooo SLOOOOOOW.
Plus, in Idaho, we have to continually water the compost pile in the summer to get any decomposition to occur. On to trench composting.

My compost bins
My compost bins

The benefits of trench composting:
1.The scraps are buried in the soil, they don’t hang out on the pile- no odors, or rodents or raccoons will be digging in the pile.
2.No turning the compost!
3.You can trench anytime of the year.
4.The anaerobic process will retain more nutrients than
hot composting. Apparently the hot composting loses much of its nitrogen in
the decomposition process.
5. No need to buy a bin, all you need is a shovel!
6. You can bury leaves and grass clippings as well.
7. If you don't have an dirt area for trenching, then try spot trenching by just digging with a post hole digger!

Digging the trench, in the tomato bed
Digging the trench, in the tomato bed

The hard part about trench composting:
1. You have to dig- but really that's not so hard! Just be sure to get 18-24 inches deep.
2. Keep the area damp for the quickest breakdown. If the area is not watered it could take until the next season for the compost to breakdown.

How to do it: (Taken from
1. Dig a hole or trench in your garden 45-60cm (18-24") deep and as wide and long as you like. I used a square shovel which made digging the trench super easy.
2. Fill the bottom 6 inches of the trench with moist food waste.
3. Top with a layer of organic mulch material (i.e. leaves or straw).
4. If you like, sow a cover crop, like radishes or field peas that will suppress weeds.

Trench dug, kitchen scraps ready to be buried.
Trench dug, kitchen scraps ready to be buried.

What I will do next time!
Next time, I will look into this a little more, before starting the project! I like the trench idea, but I should have dug a little deeper- maybe 6 more inches. And then I can add more scraps.
I will add bunny manure and old straw to the trench before I cover it up. That should speed up the decomposition.
I will plant a cover crop in the fall.
Be sure to mark where you have trenched or keep track of it somehow so you don't dig into it until it's time. Not that anything bad will happen, but you will have to recover the trench. Or change your planting plans.

Next year, this area will be ready for planting! This is a great way to restore and rest the soil, just mark off the planting rows and the trench rows and rotate them each year.

More information on trench composting here:

Published by Vicki

I love gardening and when it comes to vegetables, organic gardening is important to me. I am an Advanced Master Gardener with the University of Idaho, and my favorite garden activity is pruning. When I'm not cutting down plants, you can find me shooting photos on my Canon DSLR or out smashing overheads on the tennis courts.

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