How To Trench Compost In Winter – Composting Made Easy, All Without A Pile!

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Did you know there’s a fantastic way to compost throughout the winter using a method called trench composting? It’s not only simple but also doesn’t require a compost pile, making it perfect for anyone without access to one.

Trench composting isn’t a new concept; it’s been around for thousands of years and has proven to be effective in enriching and nurturing the soil. Instead of using a traditional compost pile or bin, you simply bury compostable materials directly into the soil.

Ancient civilizations that relied on growing their food used trench composting to boost their crops. They’d dig trenches and fill them with food scraps, fish, and other compostable materials. As these materials broke down, they naturally enriched the soil, providing essential nutrients for their crops.

A pitchfork in the middle of a trench compost pit with lots of kitchen scraps inside.
Trench composting is an excellent way to add nutrients and organic material back to your garden or flowerbed soil during the winter season.

With the trench method, there’s no need to worry about adding or mixing additional ingredients later. You also don’t have to stress about getting the perfect combination of materials to heat up and break down quickly. Simply bury the scraps and other biodegradable materials, and they’ll gradually decompose under the cover of the soil.

This method can be incredibly beneficial for gardeners during the winter, allowing them to continue composting even after their traditional piles have frozen over and become inactive for the season.

Winter Composting – How To Use The Trench Method

These days, most passionate gardeners opt for a dedicated compost pile instead of using the trench method. This allows materials to break down completely over time, resulting in pure, nutrient-rich compost that’s perfect for various gardening needs.

However, when winter sets in with its cold and freezing temperatures, composting becomes challenging in many areas. Decomposition slows down or even halts entirely as the frigid temperatures take hold. Piles may freeze, become buried under snow, or become overloaded with materials that aren’t breaking down. This makes it tough to maintain an active composting process during the winter months.

Kitchen scraps on top of a snow covered compost bin.
Unfortunately, adding kitchen scraps to the top of a frozen compost pile brings about issues with pests and odors.

Leaving materials exposed on top can not only attract unwanted guests like mice and raccoons but can also lead to unpleasant odors if the materials don’t break down and the temperature suddenly rises.

Also Read:  Don't throw away your pineapple peels! Here are 10 surprising reasons why

Regrettably, this situation often prompts many gardeners to halt composting altogether during the winter months. Instead of utilizing valuable vegetable peels, scraps, coffee grounds, and more, they end up throwing them away. However, this is precisely where trench composting can come to the rescue!

How To Trench Compost

Trench composting in winter hinges on the severity of your winters and how long the ground stays frozen. But regardless of your location, trench composting can be adapted to suit your needs. In areas with particularly harsh winters, a bit of preparation might be necessary.

Trench Composting In Warmer Winter Climates

Living in an area with mild or moderate winters makes digging through unfrozen soil relatively easy. While cooler temperatures might slow down a regular compost pile, trench composting remains unaffected. Plus, burying the materials eliminates any concerns about unpleasant odors.

To start trench composting, choose an unused section of your garden and dig a hole about 10 to 12 inches deep. Place your scraps directly into the hole, leaving enough space at the top for at least 4 inches of soil to cover it.

Burying the scraps at this depth helps keep the soil warmer, speeding up the decomposition process. Additionally, it ensures that rodents and other animals won’t disturb the compost. Besides the garden, trench composting can also be done in flowerbeds or around bushes and shrubs.

Burying scraps near perennials and bushes gradually provides nutrients to the plants as the materials break down. It’s a much better alternative than simply discarding valuable winter kitchen scraps!

Cold Weather Trench Composting – How To Trench Compost In The Winter

If your area experiences frequent or prolonged ground freezing during the winter, there are still two methods you can use to continue trench composting.

For climates with extremely cold temperatures, you can prepare holes in the fall or early winter while the soil is still workable. Cover these holes with a board, and when needed, simply lift the cover and drop in your compostable materials. After filling, be sure to replace the cover and anchor it with a heavy object. The intense cold will prevent any odors from developing, and the cover will deter pests from accessing the scraps. Once the weather warms up enough to allow for covering with soil, fill the hole, and your trench composting process will begin.

Kitchen scraps in a white bucket
Adding your kitchen scraps to a bucket with a sealable lid allows you to still gather those nutrient-packed materials without needing to immediately dump them into a compost pile.

In colder regions, another option is to keep a 5-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid outdoors. As kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and other compostable materials accumulate, simply add them to the bucket.

Also Read:  How To Prepare Rose Bushes For Winter – The Secrets To Fall Rose Care!

The benefit of this approach is that even in extremely cold temperatures, the compost materials won’t produce any odors or risk rotting inside the bucket. They can safely be stored until the weather warms up enough to allow for digging and burying them in the soil.

This method is preferable to tossing the materials onto a cold compost pile where animals may disturb them or where they might start to decompose and emit unpleasant odors once the temperature rises.

Trench Composting Beyond Winter Season

Regardless of whether you have a compost pile, trench composting can be a valuable technique throughout the entire growing season. It’s an excellent way to provide your plants with slow-release nutrients and minerals through side-dressing.

Items like eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable scraps are ideal for trench composting using the side dress trenching method. Begin by digging a trench about four to six inches away from the edge of your vegetable or flower plants’ roots.

Since the soil is warmer during the growing season, you won’t need to dig as deeply as you do in the winter. Once the materials are placed in the trench, simply cover them with soil and let nature take its course. As the materials break down, they gradually provide additional nutrients to the plants in a slow and natural manner. To expedite the process, try chopping up the ingredients as finely as possible before adding them to the trench.

A hand holding used coffee grounds.
Spent coffee grounds are one of the best materials to add to your garden and flowerbed soil. They are packed full of nutrients and help to improve the composition of your soil.

Best Items For Side Dressing Trench Composting

You can go to the next page to read the rest of this article

Leave a Reply

Gardening Tips and News