Sometimes the garden looks plain messy and you may think, “What IS she thinking?”
The garden is an experiment in progress. The current “compost in place” (CIP) concept began with the lawn conversion. I thought about all the clippings I’d be removing from pruning and deadheading. Usually those clippings would go into the yard waste for the city to compost; however, by constantly tossing away the clippings (and leaves) wasn’t I also tossing away the best way to improve the soil? Thus I decided to compost in place as much as possible. For example, when I trim a plant back, I’ll take lots of little snips and let the litter accumulate. Or if I’ve just cut back something large, such as a verbascum stalk, I’ll hack it to little pieces and place those pieces where the wood chips looks thin.
With annuals (currently I only welcome three species in the garden), CIP gives the seeds a chance to mature and drop. The photos show the brown stalks of California poppies decomposing where they grew, and the close-up shows a burst California poppy seed pod.
One downside of the CIP approach is that I’m providing a safe haven for slugs and snails as well as less destructive decomposers such as sow bugs. It is important to keep the fresh greens away from the base of the plants and far away from seedlings.
I’ll try to update this post as time goes on to let you know how the CIP experiment is progressing, so you may want to subscribe.