Monday, July 16, 2007

Old mess becomes new compost heap

You know how there's an area in almost every garden that's a big ol' mess? You avert your eyes as you walk past, because you don't want to see it, but you don't want to deal with it either? Well, I have a lot of those in my yard, but I now have two fewer than I did a couple days ago. Big Mess #1 was an area about 7' x 4', which contained a huge dead rhododendron, a volunteer poplar seedling, a bunch of bindweed, and my mother's collection of old nursery pots. I've had my eye on the space for a couple years as a place for a Nelly Moser clematis and some other pretty flowers, but I just didn't want to deal with the mess. Take a look at this pic to see why:
Before the sheet mulching project

Saturday, however, I decided I'd had enough. With a little help from Husband, who yanked up the rhodie skeleton and poplar seedling, I had the area cleared in about a half hour. Then it was time to employ my favorite lazy gardening technique, sheet mulching (see my previous posts on that topic for more info on that technique). Down went a thick layer of newspaper, followed by two big bags of leaves left over from last fall. Here's a pic of the project in progress:
During the sheet mulching project

Since I plan to convert this area to a planting bed next spring, I need to improve the soil. I have also filled all three of my compost bins, so I was on the lookout for a place to start another compost heap. Hey, I thought... let's solve both of those problems! The site of the former Big Mess #1 is now home to my newest compost heap! And just in time, too, because today Son and I decided to tackle Big Mess #2, the huge strip of horsetail growing along the west side of our property. All that horsetail, along with some other weeds, is now rotting away in its new home:

So what's the point of this story (besides a little public bragging about how much work I did this weekend)?

  • Sometimes those big garden jobs that we put off really aren't that big. It took me a whopping 30 minutes to clear out that mess. Why did I wait so long?
  • You don't have to spend a lot of money or do a lot of digging to get a new area ready for planting, especially if you're willing to wait awhile for nature to do the work.
  • Make composting as easy as you can. Why haul the debris to the pile, then haul the finished compost to where you need it? Either pile up your debris near where it originally grew, or build your pile where you're going to need compost in a few months.

Happy gardening!

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