This post might not be very Christmas-y or in any sort of holiday spirit BUT it is very in accordance with the wheel of the year. Let me get all hippy-dippy here for a moment and talk to you about the beauty of winter, how Nature rests and gathers her power to bring new life in the world in early spring. The little bulbs are slowly starting to wake up from their deep sleep after the longest night of the year, at the end of december. The first flowers already bloom in February, giving us a preview of the glorious blooming fields of April and May (at least at the Norther Hemisphere).
In order to enjoy a good harvest in autumn, the work needs to start much earlier. Even with zero preparation, nature will offer abundance, but by putting just a little bit of effort, the results can be really rewarding. Last year, when we first moved to this house, we were pleasantly surprised in spring by a great range of flowers that were popping up in our garden. Bulbs planted by the previous tenants. However, as much I love flowers, I do not appreciate them more than a good cherry tomato plant. Last year we managed to grow potatoes and spinach and herbs and pumpkins on the crappy soil that was already there plus the war that slugs had declared on us, but this year I have decided to up my game.
The best way to start a vegetable garden is of course great soil. Sure enough, you can buy a big bag of compost and be done with it, but it is so much more fun to make your own from scratch! Our municipality here in Hillegom is anyway forcing us (and I am grateful for that) to separate our trash, so we already have a green bin for food scraps and garden clippings. My dad had a great idea on how to use plastic crates stacked on top of each other to create a neat compost pile and I am thinking of doing that as well, but for now I decided to try out much simpler and see how it goes. So I did a bit of googling and came across trench composting.
What you do is basically dig a hole, bury in food scraps, cover with dried leaves, grass clippings, a bit of soil and bury them. Then wait a bit for earth worms and other fun little creatures that live in the soil to decompose everything and create the dark gold that is compost. It can’t get much simpler than that.
There’s a step four but my camera’s battery died before I had a chance to take a picture: cover with more soil and step on it, so that the soil gets a bit more compact. That is essential for us here, as there are jackdaws and cats visiting our garden on a daily basis and we don’t want them digging up our precious food waste.
It is important to make sure you won’t be planting right above your compost hole, as you might have issues with roots rotting, if the composting/fermentation is not complete. For us, that is pretty easy and one side of our garden is in the shadow, so it’s where the sandbox and kiddy pool goes. And now the compost too. We plant everything on the other side. If you don’t have that option, then you can just dig small holes and burry food in-between your plants.
I didn’t expect it, but making compost is a very child-friendly activity. Our 3,5 year old was SO excited with all the digging and burrying (you can see she got a bit carried away and burried her doll too). I definitelly recommend it for one of those days that there is extra energy that needs to be used up.
Best of luck!