In some areas of my yard there is wonderful rich soil where years of leaf matter have decomposed into a pretty nice loam . . . at least by Florida standards. In other areas . . . Compacted soil, red clay or builder's sand . . . Not so great.
These are the areas that I have to work on the most. I've been reading about a permaculture practice where they place sticks and twigs on the soil, add compost on top, then wait for it all to breakdown before planting in the newly enriched raised bed. This is called the hugelkultur method - which is a German term which roughly means "mound culture." You then have to be REAL patient while you wait for the twigs to break down. I'm not that patient, so I dig wide and deep planting holes, line them with the broken twigs, compost and leaf matter before planting the plants. I figure that the compost enriches the soil now, and in time, the twigs and leaf matter will further enrich the soil as they break down.Click here to read more about the hugelkultur method.
Photo Source: Pinterest (www.permaculture.org.au)
I like the permaculurist's idea of retaining as much dead plant material on your property by either composting it, or breaking up the small branches and twigs and placing them top of the mulched beds. It seems to make a lot of sense to retain as much organic material as possible instead of dragging it to the curb.
I once read a book called Zero Waste House which was very interesting and eye-opening ... I highly recommend it if you're into this sort of thing, and even if you're not! I know I could never have a completely "zero waste home," - - - I won't give up my toilet tissue - - - but I wonder if it's possible to come close to a zero waste yard. Sounds like it might be a fun experiment!
Afterall, gardening really is just one experiment after another. Sometimes we're successful, and sometimes we're not. The best part is we keep learning, and when we're successful we get beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. Who knew science could be so much fun!