The Honey Hole and the Fertility Trench

I've written before about my penchant to trench mulch by burying stuff.

Dig a narrow hole. Throw stuff in and scatter mulch over.

The 'stuff' can be anything from kitchen scraps, junk mail, manures..to  dead frozen Cane Toads.

My garden is a cemetery for the rotting dead.

So I was looking at my soil and was thinking I needed to manure this up. My habit had been manure teas and dispersal of mixes like Blood and Bone. Cow and horse manures always came with a weed tax.

But I suddenly thought. "What if I buried these manures deep, away from ready seeding?"

So I came back to the hole option. Did some homework and found I wasn't alone because the term for this is Honey Hole or Fertility Trenches.
"Before fertilizer became available for sale in bags, people came up with interesting ways to stash away nutrients in the soil. Some Native American tribes regarded the burying of a fish beneath each corn seed as a spiritual necessity, and early peach growers in Georgia are said to have buried an old leather boot at the bottom of planting holes. In both cases, these traditions created hidden caches of bioactive nutrients that were slowly released as the materials degraded, which is part of what happens when you make compost in a Honey Hole. We don’t recommend planting right on top of a Honey Hole, mostly because it’s filled with a more massive amount of active organic matter compared to a fish or a shoe. In addition, planting in a Honey Hole would compromise its secondary function as a reservoir for moisture when there is little water to be had." [The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin ]
Honey Holing isn't rocket science. It works no matter what you throw down the hole because the gains are  not just about adding nutrients. Water entering these trenches slowly percolates an enriched brew into the nearby root zone.  But as  Pleasant and Martin warn,
"Do think things through before using a Honey Hole as a depository for a glut of high-nitrogen manure, and use restraint should you decide to activate the mix with a high-nitrogen meal. Plant roots that wander into a moist environment that’s rich in nutrients may suffer damage from chemical overload, or frenzied microorganisms may mistake them for dead and eat them for lunch."
Trench mulching like this has formatted much of my activity although I've often strayed from my focus. Become eclectic.  I guess I'm engaging in some renewal with re-commitment in mind.

Originally I relied on cardboard and newspapers -- I called them junk mail sponges -- because I was  engineering moisture reservoirs. Now I'm hoping to integrate more manures into the beds this way.  

Another approach, offered by  ,  is to  service the trenches with wood chips.
This ingenious system rapidly converts wood chips into large quantities of fertile topsoil filled with earthworms and beneficial fungi and microorganisms.
Indeed I use the paths  between the garden beds like this: as fertility trench gullies

En route I also laid both small logs  and rolled up newspapers directly onto the beds and green mulched over them. The problem I've found with this approach is that I lost the sponge water reservoir properties that vertical mulching offered me.

So I'm back Honey Holing...this time with manure at the bottom of the honey hole.

Dig a hole. Fill her up.


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