i have seen a lot of great ideas on this type of post post and i'd like to relay how I have composted for the last couple of years my inspiration comes from my grandparents who never had a compost pile but always put the food scraps directly on the garden this makes sense to me for a couple of reasons... some have already been stated but mainly: keeping the compost pile in situ means that the leacheate that is coming from the pile can be used by adjacent plants... this is evident by the amount of growth that can be seen... the second part is the labor question.... in traditional composting you are taking a large amount of material and reducing it to a fraction of it's size and moving it around the garden... some people are also turning compost all the time which is a lot of work as well... it's much easier to me to just leave the compost to rot where it lies... i have to believe that the biological activity in that spot would be greater than other parts of the garden .... but all of that has been touched upon in other threads
I usually just throw my scraps in the garden but this year I decided to try something new as my roommates had some issues with the compost not being in one spot my experiment with the compost pile for this year... last fall I made an area for compost... I put layers of leaves, straw and soil from paths that I had dug in the garden.. in my last soil layer I buried some jarusalem artichokes.... we proceded to throw our scraps on the pile all winter.... well.... this spring the growth in the sunchokes has been out of control... they started growing more than a month earlier than the ones that I have in the garden and there are now some of the plants more than two feet tall..they grew right through the raw vegetable scraps on the top of the pile.. I also have squash and cantalopes coming up as well as chia, garlic, onions and potatoes.. so I think that the compost pile is a good place to let seeds germinate on their own and see what they do in an area of increased fertility ... i think the increased heat from the pile helps with seed germination and early growth... next year I'm thinking of growing some different types of vegetables in this manner as well as all of my jarusalem artichokes as this plant already produces huge yields in our climate is perennial and native...
so i guess I want to ask is if anybody has any opinions on this subject or has had any luck with growing vegetables directly in the compost pile as well as any ideas on the subject.
Hmmm... everybody talks about compost in relation to kitchen scraps, but over here we produce cow manure and straw daily. What are we to do with them if not compost? We can't scatter them lightly in the garden or the pastures. It's a heck of a lot! Plus, fresh manure can burn plants.
Writing from Madhuvan, a yoga retreat/organic farm on the West Coast of Costa Rica.
that's a good point.... I think with the right land to manure ratio you can use the fresh stuff more freely... this may mean finding what the maximum stocking rate of cattle or whatever livestock you were using would be.... I think once you figured out the stocking rate you would know how much manure the land could sustainably process. this is based on natural models..... animals generally are taking resources that are dispersed and concentrating them in their dung.... this dung is then spread over the land... sometimes concentrated and often times scattered fairly evenly i think if you find your stocking rate you can evenly spread the right amount of manure on the landscape without getting into a toxic situation one other thought.... I know there are some plants that are more adapted to fertile situations.... the poplars and many other plants in the willow family are very fast growinig, can be coppiced, and like a high fertility situation you could use this as firewood, biomass, fodder to go back to livestock, etc. ...
Squash especially grows beautifully in compost heaps. I see no problem with building compost heaps and using them as raised beds. This is basically the idea behind Lasagna Gardening, except in that case the compost is cool sheet mulching, never getting hot enough to kill seeds, and the beds are generally not very tall.
I started composting all kinds of things, when I started in the fall I had far to much carbon in my piles. To balance that out I started taking the food scraps from a Chinese restaurant I used to work at, which mostly consisted of cabbage, celery, and a few other veggies. To my surprise in January when uncovering a pile to add more material i found 4-5 cabbage heads that had rooted and started to grow. The cabbage had been mostly used by the restaurant and what was rooting was very small pieces of the waste product. I now pull 4-5 out a week that are rooted and plant them around my gardens. Since then i have found celery, onions, and potatoes that have rooted in my piles.
The only problem with this is that if your pile is hot the roots of the plants might not have very much room to grow in because of the heat. To counter that in the pile that i am planting in I added more carbon material then added regular garden soil on top to give the plants some time before they got to the compost.
I went all out on our compost pile this winter with it finishing about 15x20x6 so in theory this should be the last time we dig our rows. We are now planning on extensively using sheet mulching and throwing whatever scraps we produce under the sheet mulch to basically have a compost pile everywhere. We will continue to have a compost pile on the side of the garden for excess material and to have compost for potted plants but the majority of scraps will be used under the mulch.
If ever worried about the mulch/compost layer being to hot all that is needed is to add more carbon(mulch).
So yes growing in the compost pile in my opinion is a great idea!