A guest blog from Helen Butt of the Leeds Rotters

There are many ways to compost at home. You could buy a bin which is specifically designed for this purpose, or you can simply pile up garden waste in a heap in the corner of the garden, for example. But what about an even easier way to deal with both carbon and green waste which means the compost will be right where you need it from the word go?

Well, this is perfectly possible if you have a garden or allotment which you are allowed to dig in. All you need is ground which has been cleared of vegetation, a spade and a desire for a free workout!

Here’s the story of a trench I made back in 2015.

First, I dug a trench where I wanted to grow vegetables.

Then I lined the bottom of the trench with carbon rich material such as branches and newspaper before filling in the rest of the space with green waste such as vegetable peelings and soft stems from flowers.

Finally, I covered the green waste with a layer of finished compost before putting the soil removed to make the hole over the top of the whole lot.

The principle is that the brown material will soak up water which reduces the need for water and you need it at the bottom of the trench since it takes longer to decompose than the green material.

I was actually able to plant my cucumber plants straight into the soil over the trench because of the finished compost and the fact that the green waste was already partially decomposed.

If, however, you are starting from scratch without finished compost and with waste straight out of the kitchen, it would best to wait a few months before planting into the trench, otherwise the process of decomposition might rob your crop of vital nitrogen.

Once you’ve got the hang of making a trench in this way, you can add other ingredients to the mix. Got an old pair of jeans? Use latex gloves around the house? Drink filtered coffee? These can all be composted too. The thing to avoid is cooked food, dairy and meat, as these will attract rats, who will make short work of the contents of the trench.

Should you wish to turn all food waste into valuable compost for your garden, there are however fantastic ways of doing this, which you can find elsewhere on the Zero Waste Leeds website. In the meantime, why not give the trench method a go?

Our Guest Blogger Helen Butt has been composting for over 10 years and volunteering with Leeds Rotters for over eighteen months. You can read Helen's own blog here.