Soil Restoration: Compost Pile Method

compost binOver time, the soil in the yard had turned to hard-packed dust with very little nutrient or organic content. There were no worms or plants or any kind in site.

Back in 2010-2011, I piled leaves in the corner of the yard in an informal compost pile. It was really just a pile of leaves that sat for a couple years, rather than a real compost pile.

When I moved the leaves in 2012 to start the Reclaimed Garden, I noticed that there were lots of earthworms in the lowest layer of leaves and in the underlying soil. This layer of leaves and the underlying soil also held more moisture than the soil in the rest yard. Hmmmm…note to self.

In 2012, I started a “real” compost pile. In the summer of 2014, I decided to move the compost pile to make room for a new vegetable garden bed. As the compost pile was dismantled, there were lots of earthworms in the lower layer of compost pile and in the underlying soil. These layers also held more moisture than the soil in the rest yard. Hmmmm…this looks like a pattern.

As the compost piles breakdown, the decomposing organic material melds with the underlying soils. This process attracts beneficial insects, bacteria and fungi. When these soils are uncovered, they are looser, more aerated, hold more moisture and are home to lots of big, juicy earthworms.

The presence of compost pile itself restores the underlying soil. Moving and turning the compost helps it aerate and breakdown faster. Based on these observations, I’ve changed my composting strategy. Now, I have multiple compost piles and move them around the yard every so often. This makes the composting go faster and improve the health of the surface layers of soil all over the yard. Win-Win!