The answer lies in the garbage: compost it.
|Finished compost ready to go to work in the vegetable beds.|
The average household creates an incredible amount of waste and most of it can be utilized to build your own soil. Once you start gardening you will also generate more yard debris. All you need is a composting container or bin and a good pitchfork and you can turn this stuff into black gold.
Compost bins can just be piles in a corner, wire enclosures, wood pallets attached together, a barrel, a stack of cinder blocks, or a bin. My favorite is a three-bin system that I first saw in Kent, Washington. The city was touting composting as a way to reduce waste and had the bin in their demonstration garden. It’s plans come with a lid to help keep rain off and critters out – something we didn’t add when we built the bin while living in Oregon and later here in Texas. Here is a link to the plans that University of Arkansas publishes.
Once you get your compost pile built, it does take a little maintenance. Make sure that it doesn’t dry out by soaking it with the hose on occasion. You’ll also need to turn it in order to keep the oxygen flowing to the microbes breaking it down. I turn mine about once a week. You’ll see a lot of advice on how to layer your debris to make sure oxygen flows through the pile. If you plan on turning the pile, you can chuck the advice and just throw plant material in.
It’s a little work, I’ll admit. But it’s a lot cheaper than buying it, that’s for sure. Plus I know exactly what’s in it and am not contributing to an overflowing landfill. A win-win! But be warned, it's very addictive. I've become a leaf and brush thief in the neighborhood to feed my habit. Hey, those paper bags of yard debris fit perfectly in my wheelbarrow. And I can stop at any time. Really.