Connecticut Garden Journal: Composting In Place | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Composting In Place

Aug 15, 2019

I've been rereading an old classic, 1973 gardening book by a former Redding, Connecticut resident Ruth Stout. In her book, No Work Gardening, she touts using deep layers of organic mulches as the solution to pretty much everything in the garden. She uses deep mulching for weed control, fertility management, and pest control and got huge yields with little work. Ruth passed many years ago, but her book got me thinking about simplifying my garden work.

I've always been a believer in mulching, so I may try Stout's method of mulching 8 inches or deeper year round for better weed control, plant growth and less work. But I've already started making life easier in my garden by composting in place.

Composting in place means leaving organic matter in the garden rather than moving it to a compost pile. It simplifies my work kind of like Ruth piling old hay, leaves and grass clippings in her garden. However, you do need to be make sure your plants aren't insect or disease infested. Leaving them in place may just make it easier for insects and diseases to infest plants next year.

Also, make sure the weeds aren't going to seed. We made the mistake of letting Verbena bonarienesis go to seed one year and I'm still pulling out seedlings each summer. Pile the cuttings in the rows or on beds that have finished producing. Also, instead of pulling out the roots of old vegetables and flowers, cut stems at the soil line. This will leave the roots to rot overwinter, hold the soil in place and not disrupt the soil ecosystem.