How To Make Compost Without A Compost Pile

Even if your city or community doesn’t allow you to have a compost pile, there is a way of recycling your biodegradable waste into your organic garden simply by using direct composting, also known as trench composting.

How To Direct Compost Your Organic Waste


Direct composting is accomplished by burying your kitchen and other organic waste beneath your garden soil, where it will decompose naturally. Done properly, it is a clean and environmentally friendly organic gardening method, encouraging earthworms to take up residence to aerate and enrich the soil.

Acceptable Materials For Direct Composting

You can direct compost whatever would be put into a regular compost pile. All non-toxic organic or biodegradable materials are acceptable for organic gardening.

The simplest and most abundant material you can use is fruit and vegetable peels and cores right from your kitchen. Cooked foods can be direct composted, except for meat products or meat-eating animal feces. Bird and fish droppings can be direct composted, as can shredded paper and cardboard.

Two Methods Of Direct Composting

building a worm composter

The simplest and most popular direct composting method is burying the scraps at least 6 inches under the soil in your garden, around your plants. Covering your organic material with at least 6 inches of soil will keep animals from digging it up, or flies from laying eggs in it.

Another popular method of direct composting is processing the scraps in a food processor or blender with water, and pouring the mixture into a trench around the plants. This method is for feeding rather than soil amendment, and is useful for young plants. Direct composting in this way allows faster decomposition of the organic material.

Dig a 6 inch deep trench from the drip line out about three to six inches. This is the area where the feeder roots will be growing out seeking nutrition, and digging out this far will not damage the existing roots.

Read more: How To Correct Overly Dry Soil With Compost and Mulch

The Benefits Of Direct Composting

Commercial kitchen composters are available, but are expensive, and if the mixture is not kept exactly right, they can have odor problems, as well as breeding fruit flies and maggots. With direct composting there is no need to keep your garbage indoors. Direct composting allows nutrients to be released directly to the plant roots, where they can do the most good.

You can continue direct composting into your organic garden in the winter (if you can dig in your soil) but the needed bacteria are not active in the soil until it reaches the right temperature, so your materials will not begin to break down until the soil warms in the spring.

Direct composting can work for your organic gardening needs whether you have a large plot, or just a few plants in pots. It’s free and healthy food for you plants, and keeps garbage out of the landfills. Try it, and you’ll be glad you did.

How to Make Compost Without a Compost Pile