Friday, January 15, 2016


Twenty years ago I was new to my home and confronting clay soil for the first time. Every spring I would buy four inch potted plants, dig a lovely hole for each, place them in, water and tamp only to find their piteous root balls exposed in the summer heat surrounded by what I came to call ‘The Cracks of Doom.’

A concerned friend gave me this bit of advice, “put the fifty cent plant in a five dollar hole.”

So I took my buddy’s advice and bought and hauled bag after bag of organic compost crimping our budget and frequently sending me to the chiropractor but saving my baby plants.

Then one winter morning my husband, the fisherman, asked me why I didn’t just bury the waste from our crab feed like Native Americans used to do. To stymie predators we dug deep and barricaded the hole. The vine we planted there eventually ripped the siding off our house.

It’s January and daffodils are pushing up through our lawn, but it’s hardly time to plant since a brutal frost could come at any time. Why not build some lovely black dirt while the rains are around to help?

Newport Public Library has a handy little book that completely demystifies the process, Backyard Composting: Your Complete Guide to Recycling Yard Clippings, which you can hold here.

Oregon State Extension Service of Lincoln County is spending its slow winter months building new Master Gardeners who are taking classes through the end of March. They are a tremendous free local resource and only an email or phone call away at 541-574-6534 Ext 57414 to answer all kinds of gardening questions. For more elaborate composting options that I tend to avoid like worm farms, hugelcultur, and rotating drum composters, I’d recommend their services.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to add my kitchen vegetable garbage and newspaper shreddings to a simple wire cage and spend my days inside with a good book while nature works her magic outside providing me with fresh black compost this spring.

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