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How to make a composting trench

Find how to make a composting trench for next year's crops.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

Making a composting trench is a great way to use up your organic kitchen waste and give your vegetable crops a boost in the coming growing season.

By placing your vegetable peelings in a trench to rot down over winter, you’ll add nutrients to the soil and help to retain valuable moisture. 

All it requires is a little forward planning, as you need to select in advance where you’re going to grow your runner beans or other thirsty crops, such as courgettes or pumpkins.

Here’s how to make a composting trench.

By placing your vegetable peelings in a trench to rot down over winter, you'll add nutrients to the soil and help to retain valuable moisture.

You will need

  • Organic kitchen waste
  • Garden spade
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Step 1

Dig out a trench about 60cm deep during late autumn or winter. Then start filling it with all your organic kitchen waste, such as vegetable peelings, mouldy fruit, apple cores, onion skins and even tea bags.

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Step 2

Each time you add a batch of kitchen waste, cover it with a layer of soil. Continue until the trench is full, then top off with soil and leave it to rot down. As it does so, it will hold on to plenty of moisture, which is just what beans enjoy. 

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Step 3

In May or June, sow or plant your beans on top of the composting trench and their roots will go down into the moisture-retentive, nutrient-rich material, boosting their growth.

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