An Innovative Gardening Technique30th August 2018 • Composting • Stephanie Donaldson
A local allotment site has asked me to judge their allotments for the past couple of years and it has been really interesting to see the different techniques that the various plot holders employ.
One of the most interesting was explained to me by Tim, who took over a neglected, steeply-sloping and overgrown plot two years ago. Since then, he has set about its restoration based on the principal that he dedicates half the plot to productivity and half – as he puts it – to decay (i.e. producing compost). Rather than serried ranks of bins, he makes ‘compost pathways’. He has done this by marking out the pathways that run parallel to the hill, digging down a metre (this is the demanding bit) and using the excavated soil to form the terraced beds. The sides of the paths are lined with landscape fabric. He then starts to fill the ‘compost pathways’ with every bit of green waste he can lay his hands on, both from his own plot and from other allotmenteers. Branches, sticks, hedge trimmings, perennial weeds, they all go in and as they rot, lose mass, so he can add more. Any perennial weeds that have the temerity to appear have their foliage chopped off and added to the path. When he is ready to use the compost, he will scrape away the upper, less-rotted material and then dig out the black gold to add to the adjoining beds. His plot is entirely no dig and incredibly productive, if a bit random in appearance. It wouldn’t be practical, or physically possible for everyone but it is an interesting technique for someone taking over a neglected plot.