Trenching, Level Zero

JUST TO RECAP: You won’t see a COMPOST HEAP or worm farm at our place, and that can be a shock to some. Read here to find out why we DON’T DO COMPOSTING. We trench instead..

STEP 1: WHAT GOES IN, AND WHAT TO KEEP IT IN

>>> If it was once a plant, it’s in <<<

Fruit & veg scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, includes CITRUS & ONION, egg cartons, non-glossy paper like printer paper, tissues, serviettes..
*PLUS one non-plant item – egg shells*

>>> Keep it in stainless steel <<<

There are lots of nifty cheap containers, but most will rust, leak and fall apart in no time. Buy Once; stainless steel, so it can be rinsed out and last a lifetime. These two are our favourites and have lids as well – practical on the left and dang cute on the right.

This is our stainless scraps bucket

🌿 UPDATE: Folks who use the Bokashi system have asked if this can be trenched rather than just using a scraps bucket – YES ABSOLUTELY. Bokashi is perfect for trenching, especially if you don’t have the space for larger composting. Get that Bokashi goodness into the ground, STAT!

Try the Bokashi system from BIOME
Try the Bokashi system.
You can get them from BIOME

STEP 2: WHAT STAYS OUT

>>> No meat, dairy, cereals <<<

There ARE ways to trench these, but not at Level 1. That story is for another time. For now, leave them out, as they’ll attract pests to scratch around after you.

TRENCHING TRAPS
Fruit stickers last forever and will be colourful and intact for years to come. Envelope windows used to be made of true cellophane. Not anymore. Keep them out too. Packing tape on the bottom of boxes is sometimes missed, and these days very glossy packaging print can often actually be vinyl wrap, not ink. Grrr.

STEP 3: OUT IN THE YARD

>>> Dig, dump & fill <<<
(in a good way)

Most plants and shrubs feed in the top 30cm of soil, so that’s where we would like our trenching, to be the most benefit. Dig a hole between plants, with a shovel, or trowel if in a pot. Retain the soil.

Scraps from your bucket go in (not complicated at this basic level of trenching) and if it is summer time or ground is dry, give it a splash with the hose. Moisture is needed to break it all down. Backfill with the soil from the hole. Job done.

  • If you have pets, then fill only half the hole with scraps and cover well so as not to attract attention with smells.
  • Don’t have clever doggies around when you dig, as they will see you digging and may join in after you leave.
  • Best not trench foods that are harmful to your pets in case they get stuck into it, or trench it in areas to which they don’t have access.

By the time you have trenched holes between all your plants and get back to the start in a few months or so (depending on the weather and your soil type) it may well be already decomposed – worms and the microbiome will have already had a field-day and turned it into plant food, bar the eggshells and avocado stones that take a bit longer. 

STEP 4: CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT

>>> See all our trenching stories so far, here <<<

🕶👌 ☕️🍰🥂🧀

Try trenching instead

Try Trenching

This is a big one – one of the main things folks REALLY WANT to see in action when they visit our produce garden. It is scaleable, flexible, fast and effective.

You won’t see a COMPOST HEAP or worm farm at our place, and that can be a shock to some. Read here to find out why we DON’T DO COMPOSTING.
Try trenching instead…

Trenching is so easy it feels like a scam. It is about getting the good stuff straight into the ground. At its simplest, it’s just a hole in the ground, with scraps tossed in, covered in soil that came out of the hole, and #tadaa – instant buffet for the microbiome. It is part of our zero-waste regime that has followed us from a tiny house and smidgey backyard to acreage, but still serves so well.

You can do basic trenching in all sorts of places:

try trenching in a tiny house yard

Jump to
LEVEL
0

>> SMALL
Think 2 litres of green scraps in a hole between plants in a small yard or a balcony pot.
*******
THIS SCALE IS TO REDUCE YOUR WASTE
*******
This is the size we will look at today.

small trenching bucket
Level 1:
Stainless bucket of kitchen scraps
small spaces between plants
Food waste use in small spaces
try trenching in a medium family size garden

LEVEL 1
Medium

>>MEDIUM
Think 20 litres of scraps at a time in home veggie beds
*******
THIS SCALE IS GREAT FOR MAKING SOIL
*******
This is the closest to what we do here. Let’s explore this another day.

medium family trenching bin
Level 2:
use kitchen scraps + more
medium space in raised beds
Home garden bed ongoing maintenance
try trenching in a large community garden space

LEVEL 2
Go Large

>> LARGE
Think 200-2000 litres of scraps in long trenches on acreage or at a community garden
*******
THIS SCALE IS SUITED TO SITE REJUVENATION
*******
This is a cool project we can do in Spring.

large scale community trenching via food waste recycling programs
Level 3:
use kitchen scraps + much more
large scale site rejuvenation
Large scale, long term soil and site improvement

There is a LOT to learn and apply of course, to get the most out of your waste, but we have made a start.
SEE HERE FOR TRENCHING BASICS, LEVEL 1

🌿 UPDATE: Folks who use the Bokashi system has asked if this can be trenched – YES ABSOLUTELY. Bokashi is perfect for trenching, especially if you don’t have the space for larger composting. Get that Bokashi goodness into the ground, STAT!

Try the Bokashi system from BIOME
You can get your Bokashi system goodies from BIOME.

Look wide; Grow well, folks.
**************************

not keen on composting

Why not Composting?

We get this question a lot – why not just use a compost heap?

Well, we did that, but in the end went back to a very old method that works better for us. We started out in a little place with a small backyard and composting was easier said than done. We found in practice it required a critical mass of space and time we just couldn’t scale down. Now we probably wouldn’t go back. Whether you have food waste, garden green waste, or even just a great Bokashi System in your kitchen There IS an alternative.

{psst: Jump Here to go straight to our alternative}

we love compost but why not composting ?

Composted organics are vital to soil health. They are nutritious, porous, conditioning, structural, renewable and available to plants – the very stuff needed to feed yummy veg. It’s a totally good news story. #happydays

not keen on composting

Composting is great in theory, but doesn’t come about by chance. It can be much harder to achieve in practice and take a lot more time, volume and management than well-meaning shows on tv might suggest. The reality can be messy, smelly, unbalanced, burdensome, slow and ultimately ineffective. #sadface

the Microbiome in compost

Our job is to make compost that is attractive to the most helpful microbiome (population of micro-organisms and tiny critters in soil). The process is better for plants if that little village is AEROBIC (airy, using oxygen) rather than ANAEROBIC (stale and compacted).

Mushy and smells like farts – ANAEROBIC

why not composting?
“Our compost isn’t right – what went wrong? ” Unless you just love the idea of maintaining your compost, and you have a lot of space, one big enough to be effective may not be possible.
There IS another way.

Fluffy and smells like fresh soil – AEROBIC

good AEROBIC compost
If the journey to a waste-free life isn’t your aim and you just want compost, buying it at a local business dedicated to manufacturing high quality, weed-free pasteurised (cooked) compost like this is totally fine.

To get the plant-friendly aerobic village working, composting needs – OXYGEN, MOISTURE, NUTRIENTS, HEAT and TIME.
>>>Jump over HERE for more information on these<<<

  • OXYGEN – requires lots of turning the heap, fluffing, balancing wet to dry ingredients and tinkering about. There are no shortcuts.
  • HEAT – to keep the middle part of the heap warm enough (37 C+), it must be bigger than a cubic metre. Turning gives outside bits a turn in the warm centre. Any smaller and it just won’t break down properly. If you put weed seeds in it, even hotter 60 C+ is to pasteurise it. That can be metres and metres of material.
  • INGREDIENTS BALANCE – Carbon and nitrogen are both important. In practice, this means the dry garden/paper waste mixed with the wet kitchen scraps in balanced measure.
  • MOISTURE – too dry, and it just won’t break down because the micro village dies. Too wet, and the air can’t circulate. Attention is required to keep in the Goldilocks zone.
  • TIME – at best, it is weeks until you strike gold. In cooler climates and winter months, it is months or even a year plus. Can you wait? In our experience, it takes 10 cubic metres of raw ingredients to make 1 cubic metre of good compost. That’s a lot.

The alternative is to get the good stuff in the ground, STAT!

Try trenching instead