Throughout the winter I’ve been looking out the window watching the soil in my raised beds shrink more and more into the ground. Maybe it’s because a lot of horse manure and straw were mixed in last year and are now compacted, or maybe it’s because a big part of the soil has been converted into vegetables which then have been removed and carried inside to the kitchen table, thereby removing mass from the beds, I don’t know. But it looks rather silly with a raised bed missing all the soil above ground level. Only the wooden frame is left. It will soon be time for the frost to leave the soil and time for digging. I’ve already built two raised beds with wooden frames and I’m planning on building three more large ones this spring. I’m going to need soil for all of this, more specifically 6 cubic metres, but I’m a bit picky about what I put into my garden. Who knows what chemicals might be present in the soil you buy in big quantities from a gravel pit. Soil in these quantities are awfully expensive from nurseries. What I would really like to do is to make my own from compost. This way I know exactly what goes into my beds and vegetables.
I have already got three composting boxes each about 1 cubic meter with two of them full, but for this to work out I have realized that I need better boxes. At first I was very delighted with the ones I have now, since they have several advantages:
- Low weight
- Easy to assemble
- Low cost
- Looks great
That’s all very good – if you put in your organic garden waste and leave it alone for the next ten years, kinda like a local disposal site.
But that’s not what I want to do. I want to be able to begin taking some compost out from the bottom and see what’s going on. Maybe some of it is ready to be put into the raised beds or maybe it needs to take another round in one of the other boxes and wait another year. Maybe the whole heap needs to be turned and mixed with more highly reactive ingredients.
But this is not possible with this kind of construction. If you want to recycle your organic matter in the form of compost in your garden, you’ll need a more flexible construction, which you can open in the front in an easy way. The ones below are better suited for the process of using compost in the garden:
Photo by Collin Anderson.
The type of box you hammer together (in the first picture) is more static by design, which is fine if you just want to temporarily get rid of grass clippings and leaves, and then once every ten years or so drive the whole pile away and start all over. It sure is capable of eating a lot of waste but it’s hopeless if you want to work that waste into usable compost for your kitchen garden.
Are you making your own compost or would you like to try it? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts, questions or experiences.