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Image by Joshua J. Cotten

Wisdom from Xwe’etay Gardeners

by Marti Wendt

Rat-free Composting

 

When rats started becoming more of a problem here on Lasqueti we decided to change the way we composted our kitchen food scraps. While thinking about building a rat-proof wire cage compost bin we temporarily decided to just bury our compost to keep it critter free. Apparently, this is called the “dig and drop” method of composting and it couldn’t be easier. When your compost bucket is full, simply dig a hole deep enough to allow you to bury your compost with about 10 inches of soil on top. Before covering in your hole, fill your compost bin with water to wash it out, pour this water into the hole and then cover it over.

 

Poke a stick in the ground to remind yourself where your compost is and voila! 

   

There are many advantages to this “dig and drop” method:

  • it is so quick and easy

  • feeds nutrients directly into the soil

  • increases the amount of worms in your soil

  • increases the organic matter and improves the texture of your soil

  • no smell

  • no turning or aerating needed

  • you can include meat and bones without attracting rats and other animals

  • coffee grounds immediately add nitrogen to your soil, egg shells immediately add calcium to your soil and help to decrease soil acidity

   

For years I added buckets and buckets of seaweed to my sandy soil in the hopes of increasing the organic matter and encouraging worms, to little effect. Since burying our compost the soil has become rich and crumbly and full of worms! Hurray!

  

You can even do this during winter and the worms will keep working happily in the soil to break down your organic food scraps. Simply choose a bed that doesn’t need to be planted for about 4-6 weeks and fill it with a succession of compost holes as needed. If you need to use the bed before all the composting has been completed, then think about planting shallow-rooted crops like lettuce or other salad greens. 

While we still maintain a compost bin for garden debris, we love not having food scraps in this pile. I am curious if you have tried this method in heavier soil and had any luck?  Composting is a huge topic so if you would like to share your composting tips, please email annalouisedodds@gmail.com. Perhaps we can compile composting wisdom from a variety of Lasqueti gardeners in our next issue.

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