basket composting

Basket Composting Might Be The Most Efficient System You’ve Seen Yet

Of the many different ways to compost, basket composting, also known as African keyhole gardening, is one the of the easiest and most efficient.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about basket composting, from what it is to how to do it! We’ll also discuss the benefits of this method and drawbacks that you should be aware of.

basket composting in a raised bed

WHAT IS BASKET COMPOSTING?

Basket composting involves setting up a system where you have a basket, or similar container, in the middle of a raised garden bed. Kitchen scraps and other household items are directly tossed into the basket to allow the nutrients from the composting process to flow directly to the garden plants.

The most common example of this type of system is the African keyhole garden, where a “slice” of a circular raised bed is removed to allow easy access to the compost basket in the center.

This is an especially effective method in hot, dry climates, because it reduces the need for watering both the garden and the compost itself.

HOW TO SET UP A BASKET COMPOST SYSTEM

Setting up a basket compost system can be a little labor intensive, since it requires building a raised garden bed as well as digging a hole for the basket and setting up the basket itself.

But once built, this system is very efficient and will save you tons of work in the future.

Step 1: Build your raised bed

You can use many different types of materials to create your raised bed: stones, bricks, wooden boards, etc. Whatever you have on hand! As long as it will hold a majority of soil inside the bed, you’ll be set.

Make sure you create the raised bed to be large enough to accomodate both the plants you wish to grow, as well as the compost basket. As mentioned above, it can be helpful to leave a “slice” of the circular bed out so that you can walk right up to the compost basket and add your scraps.

Note: while an African keyhole garden is traditionally circular, any shape will work fine.

Step 2: Add the basket

Once your raised bed is complete, its time to add the basket in the center. A wide range of containers will be perfectly suited to containing the compost in your garden. You can use an actual woven basket, or create a simple contraption using wire mesh and zip ties.

Ideally, whatever you use will be at least somewhat porous to allow nutrients from the compost to flow out, and worms and other composting allies to freely move back and forth from the compost to the garden.

Step 3: Fill the garden

Now that you have your structures created, its time to fill the garden with soil! A mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 finished compost is a great place to start.

Step 4: Add compost, watch your garden grow

Once you’ve filled your raised bed with soil, you can begin adding compostable items to the basket. You’ll start seeing results almost immediately as worms and other decomposers move into your garden to help break down the waste in the center of your garden. Your garden plants will love it!

BENEFITS OF BASKET COMPOSTING

There are so many reasons to love basket composting. Here are just a few:

  • Efficiency: Most composting methods require you to compost in one place, and then do the work of lugging finished compost to where ever you want to use it. Basket composting eliminates that step by composting directly in the garden where your plants are growing.
  • Improved water retention: as mentioned above, compost helps improve water retention in your soil. This will help you save time and money on watering!
  • Reduced need for fertilizers: the nutrients from your kitchen scraps make their way directly to your garden plants through basket composting. This way, its unnecessary to supplement with synthetic fertilizers.
  • Attracts beneficial insects and worms: composting within your garden helps to attract helpful critters like earthworms, ladybugs, and lacewings to your garden. These little guys help break down the compost into usable nutrients for your plants.
  • Keeps animals out: If you choose the right basket, this system will keep many creatures from getting into your decomposing compost.

DRAWBACKS OF BASKET COMPOSTING

As with any method, there are some cons:

  • Requires lots of work up front: building a raised bed and digging out a hole for the compost basket can be time consuming. But once its set up, maintaining your garden and compost is much easier!
  • Not a quick method of composting: Compared to some other methods of composting, this one is not as fast. But since your garden is benefiting from the compost before it’s fully finished, this isn’t too much of an issue!
  • Difficult to harvest finished compost: If you want to finished compost to be able to use somewhere besides your garden, this isn’t the best method to use. But since most of us compost for the sake of our garden plants, basket composting works out perfectly.

BASKET COMPOSTING IS EASY AND EFFICIENT

Basket composting is a super easy and efficient method of composting. While it takes some work upfront, the benefits are numerous and make it totally worth the effort. If you’re planning to build a raised bed anyway, there really are no drawbacks to using this method!

Source: Balz, Michelle. Composting for a New Generation. Quarto Publishing Group. 2018.

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