Friday, January 22, 2010

Easy garden composting tips

On MLK Day (the first day the sun appeared in Tacoma, in who knows how long!), the Washington Conservation Corps held several free workshops for the community, one of which was on garden composting and rainwater harvesting. The workshop presenter provided two very easy garden composting ideas:

1) At the end of the season, dig up your garden and clear the debris. Rake your leaves and spread them over your plot in a thin layer, no more than 3 inches deep. Then with a shovel, turn the leaves into the soil and mix it in. Over the course of the winter, the leaves will break down and will help nourish the soil for your spring planting.

2) After planting your garden, lay down two layers (two sheets) of newspaper (no glossy sheets!) between the rows, and cover them with dead leaves. This will prevent weeds from growing up between your veggies and will provide a more solid path for you to walk on as you work your garden, and in the fall, you can turn the leaves and newspaper into the soil and mix it in. Again, this will nourish the soil for the next growing season.

One of the things I realized as I listened was that we never cleaned out our garden plot last year. Duh! I called the U. Washington Master Gardener's program today to ask how you do it. The guy I spoke with said just dig everything up and turn it back into the soil. "Even weeds?" I asked, since quite a few weeds have grown up since then. "It's up to you, you can discard the weeds, or mix it in," he said.

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