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burying kitchen scraps  RSS feed

 
Posts: 94
Location: Medford, OR
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Instead of using a compost pile, I have been digging a hole in the soil and putting in my kitchen scraps, run through the blender for a quick chop.  Recently I was told by a "soil expert" that my method is not a good idea, as it creates an anaerobic condition in the soil.  ...anaerobic...not good!  I wanted to run this by permies to get your thoughts.  Do you agree with the soil expert?  Anyone out there doing the same thing as I've been doing?
 
pollinator
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I agree its a good thing. You will soon shovel up hundreds of earthworms in that area. I suspect that they do the aeration for you.
 
pollinator
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I have done this method and I think it works fine, although I admit I haven't gardened in a soggy area!  A distinct advantage is that it keeps bugs and animals away from your scraps for the most part, which can be a challenge with aboveground composting.  Pouring urine over it will help the composting as well as repel anything digging it up....a few planks or something thrown over will help too. My method was to open up a trench and start putting stuff at one end, covering that, and then place in the next section, and so on till the whole trench is back-filled.  You will then have started your compost and made a nice raised bed at the same time!
 
pollinator
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I would not want to run all my kitchen scraps through a food processor. And if there is anything which makes it anorganic, my guess that this might be the cause because it gets all mushed up. Kitchen scraps are only a tiny tiny part of the whole compost pile so I don't really get the advantage, and it is one thing which brings nitrogen.
 
Posts: 179
Location: ALASKA
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I've seen folks just dig another row in the garden and put their compostable stuff in the row and just cover it a bit with dirt as they work their way out the row.  By the end of the summer most all will be turned into soil and you should have multitudes of worms working the area.  I've also seen this method used and the person layered a layer of kitchen scraps, covered with leaves or straw then dirt then repeat the process until the area was "full" before moving down the row.
 
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I think what you're doing is fine. I wouldn't bother with blending it, personally. A lot of people just use their kitchen scraps as part of a lasagna garden, which has also worked for me. Usually I put the scraps down, then cardboard, then manure, then little clumps of soil for seeds/seedings to get started in. I put the scraps down first because the manure masks the scent and keeps animals from digging it up
 
Posts: 66
Location: Zone 4B, Maine, USA
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Gail Saito wrote:Instead of using a compost pile, I have been digging a hole in the soil and putting in my kitchen scraps, run through the blender for a quick chop.  Recently I was told by a "soil expert" that my method is not a good idea, as it creates an anaerobic condition in the soil.  ...anaerobic...not good!  I wanted to run this by permies to get your thoughts.  Do you agree with the soil expert?  Anyone out there doing the same thing as I've been doing?



Also agreed on the don't bother chopping it up. Unless you enjoy that step, in which case, chop away! The little beasties will break it down chopped or no.

The "expert" is offering some strange advice... anaerobic conditions are a property of a particular zone in the soil, those conditions are not contingent on something you do. Just by digging and burying you will likely introduce oxygen anyway, so I'm unsure how anaerobic the conditions will actually be. Unless you are burying two feet down (probably not).

There are far fewer species of decomposers that live in anaerobic conditions compared to the number that live in aerobic conditions. So anaerobic decomposition just tends to take longer (and it's stinky - think a septic tank). Bokashi composting is anaerobic while mesophillic and thermophillic composting are aerobic. So he's saying you'd be doing bokashi composting in the soil. Again I have my doubts that it would actually be anaerobic, but even if it was who cares? There's nothing wrong with anaerobic decomposition, especially if that system works for you!
 
Gail Saito
Posts: 94
Location: Medford, OR
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Thank you all, for your input.  Much appreciated.  I will ditch the blender and continue burying the scraps.  As someone posted, the earthworms should take care of aerating the soil. (hadn't thought of that, so thanks!)
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I think the observation that composting underground, which is effectively what you're doing, even in small holes or in rows, has inherently less exposure to oxygen than an above-ground pile is accurate.

I think that placing kitchen scraps under a layer of thick mulch atop the soil surface, and in quantities small enough to not get hot, would benefit from exposure to soil life, which will feed on it, and oxygen in the air passing through the mulch more than it would soil itself, which usually requires the hydraulic action of water infiltration, pulling air in after it.

One of my favourite ways to use this technique is in planting potatoes. I hill the potatoes up as they grow with pine straw or wood chips or whatever other organic mulch is available, and I make my kitchen scrap deposits in the hilled up mulch between the potato plants.

-CK
 
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Gail Saito wrote:Instead of using a compost pile, I have been digging a hole in the soil and putting in my kitchen scraps, run through the blender for a quick chop.  Recently I was told by a "soil expert" that my method is not a good idea, as it creates an anaerobic condition in the soil.  ...anaerobic...not good!  I wanted to run this by permies to get your thoughts.  Do you agree with the soil expert?  Anyone out there doing the same thing as I've been doing?



I'll address the "soil expert" statement.

What causes anaerobic conditions in soil is water not draining away. So, if you have soil that stays soggy for more than a day after a rain, then you could see anaerobia set in.
Unless you drain off some of the freed up water from blending your scraps you possibly could create a gleying scenario.
(definition:a soil-forming process occurring under conditions of oxygen reduction.
Gleying is promoted by microorganisms, the presence of organic substances, and the constant or prolonged flooding of individual horizons or the entire soil profile).

These are the circumstances where you might need to be concerned about things going anaerobic;
soggy land, doesn't dry out much 24 hours after a rain (puddles that last a long time are an indicator of this condition)
soil that has somehow gleyed, this would be caused by bacteria forming a "slime" layer that is impenetrable by water (like a pond bottom or swamp bottom)

If you don't have either of the above conditions then you don't need to worry much about any buried kitchen scraps going anaerobic.
Should you be concerned, just limit the depth of the scraps you bury, fewer scraps allows for more air infiltration (unless you have the two "problems" above).

Redhawk
 
Bobby Reynolds
Posts: 66
Location: Zone 4B, Maine, USA
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My apologies, Gail, I do not mean to thread jack. Chris just hit on something I've been wondering about:

Chris Kott wrote:One of my favourite ways to use this technique is in planting potatoes. I hill the potatoes up as they grow with pine straw or wood chips or whatever other organic mulch is available, and I make my kitchen scrap deposits in the hilled up mulch between the potato plants.



Chris, I'm planning on doing the mulch planting treatment on our potatoes this year, this will be the first time I've tried it. I've heard this technique can lead to increased rodent activity in the potatoes, though. What has your experience been? Maybe PM if this doesn't fit the thread? Many thanks!
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I think dealing with pests is an integral part of the burying kitchen scraps conversation.

I think rodents are a great reason to keep scrap contributions minimal and dispersed. I think that's a good argument for breaking down the contributions manually or mechanically, though I would just mount an old sink drain to a few 2 x 4s forming a frame, hinged on the side of my compost containment bin, and install a waste disposal unit into it to chop up my scraps (I like the idea of this for compost specifically for the increased speed of decomposition and the lack of anything but slurry mixed with wood chips, coffee grounds, and leaves to draw pests).

I was dealing with compost of various stages of completion, some very fresh, and I mashed up anything big and juicy in the emptied compost pit with my shovel, and then mixed what resulted with spent coffee grounds using a garden claw. I don't think what I planted would have had much appeal (except for the banana) to scavengers, but I also planted a full complement of support companion plants for the potatoes, including interplanting horseradish, copious alliums in the hills between the potato rows, and a perimeter of marigolds. I am forgetting some of it. There was a symbiotic distraction of pest species between potato and another crop, but I will have to look at my notes to see which.

But I was setting up my hugelbeet in a downtown Toronto backyard backing onto a laneway shared by two restaurants and two bakeries. On that block. I had planned for the worst, and between what I had done and the neighbourhood cats noticing an uptick in easy meals to be had converging on my property, I only found two nests in four 18 foot long rows of potato mulch, at that time heavily colonised by fungi.

-CK

 
Bobby Reynolds
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Location: Zone 4B, Maine, USA
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Chris Kott wrote:I think dealing with pests is an integral part of the burying kitchen scraps conversation. ...



Thank you!! Great write up! The companion plants are perfect... I'll have to ask my wife what we have planned this season. Obviously the potatoes are heavily mulched, do you mulch the alliums as well?

Sounds like you did it just right, those are some impressive results!

On the food scrap front I just made a rodent-proof compost bin and just toss everything in there. Strangely enough it works out to basically a 1:1 mixture of kitchen scraps and chicken coop cleanings. With that mix there is no odor and only limited interested from rodents. One day (either this year or next) we'll make the transition to a composting toilet and that will get added to the mix. Fun times! :) Thank you again!
 
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