How to Compost Without A Compost Bin

How to compost without a compost bin | The Chelsea Project |

I have a friend from Alabama….

  where the soil is rich and tills with ease.


When she put down roots in Georgia,

she didn’t realize that she’d literally have to

crack through the hard-packed Georgia clay to do it.


If you’ve never heard of the red Georgia clay,

…just think of a hard and brittle terra-cotta pot….

IMG_1289 the shape of a half-acre concrete slab.

And, this …dear friends… is the essence of our yards.


During the summer, the sun bakes the soil until cracks grow to the size of small ditches.

When it rains, water runs off like the ground is wearing a rubber coat.

But, Girlfriend……

strong, independent, smarter-than-your average Girlfriend…

was not about to let her flower beds become mere cemeteries for her beloved perennials.


…And, so ….. an odyssey began.

The plan was simple…

Very. Simple.

If nature’s soil tillers are given a reason to come….

and to till…

they will do it.


To this end, she collected yummy organic debris…

anything and everything…


…coffee grounds, egg shells, paper, peels, cores, moldy bread and cheese, spoiled produce.

You name it…

she used it…

except meat or meat products.

Apparently, Girlfriend has an aversion

to animals digging in her yard…

…to get the meat. 🙁

She gathered in large volumes…because she had huge flower beds…

from friends, family, and even grocery store produce trash.

In the fall, she gathered leaves.

And, she buried it all about 6 to 8 inches deep


in areas that needed soil enrichment.


…she dug and buried…

…a few times a week…

….month after month…

… come rain


or come shine.


Now, don’t ask me how earthworms know when a smorgasbord opens…

or even how they find their way there….

from wherever they are in the first place.

I have just seen with my own two eyes that they will come

… in droves …

wiggling, squirming, twisting, and tilling

their little segmented selves through that rough Georgia terrain.



they are all teenage earthworms….

because they do

… after all …

come for the food.


I just know that Girlfriend now has thriving shrubs, blooming beds, and dark, nutrient-rich soil…

… thanks to lots of well-fed earthworms.


Is this a rather odd way to compost?


But, Girlfriend says it’s easier for her than an above-ground compost bin…

…because there’s no need to tend the bin

and then move the compost to the beds.

Hers is a virtual one stop compost shop.

Is there ever any odor?


Girlfriend digs deep and wide,


spreads the scraps out over an area,


then covers with soil,


and tops with mulch.


It’s as if the ground was never ever disturbed.

But, underneath..

…Girlfriend has coaxed thousands of worms

to create a brand new earth-tilling ecosystem…

that will ultimately change the course

of the soil’s history

while it breathes life

into her landscape.

“Feed the soil and the soil will feed the garden.”

Thanks, Girlfriend…..

…will do.



Until next time,

Please…..don’t forget to PIN……..


Happy gardening,



  • Reply Roz February 12, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I’m a city kid and growing up my mom just did potted plants. My sister decided to go the Green Acres route. I’m always amazed at beautiful, creative, landscaping. Great idea with the worms. Creepy but great. I’ve always felt the same about the compost bins. Yuck, when everything then needs to be transferred to the soil. I looked around and saw that you have lots of other great projects. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply thechelseaprojectblog February 12, 2015 at 3:17 am

      Hi Roz,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I come from rural Kentucky where the soil is rich and supple. My family had a farm…flower beds…vegetable garden…the whole enchilada. I’ve never seen anything like this Georgia clay…and never seen any work as well as coaxing earthworms to do the tilling. Tomorrow’s post is a DIY frame w/ a DIY canvas w/ DIY artwork. It’s a frugal challenge. Hope you will stop by and see my new masterpiece. lol. Best, Suz

  • Reply rachel621 February 20, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I know that soil! My parents have it every where in middle TN too. It’s awful. My parents had just re-contoured their landscaping around the house and decided to put a fence up. Digging those post holes was like tiling through concrete. They had to go back to the store and rent one of those big augers that you can sit in and drive. The handheld one wasn’t enough. Good for her for finding a way to get around it. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday!

    • Reply thechelseaprojectblog February 20, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Yes…hard clay is just awful…but my girl’s method is totally amazing. It takes time…but she now has the richest looking soil I’ve ever seen. TY for responding…hope to linkup again soon.

  • Reply Christie February 24, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Thanks for sharing at Totally Terrific Tuesday. Please come back this week. The party is going on now!

  • Reply Toni | Small Home Soul March 14, 2017 at 2:14 am

    My grandma kept a plastic margarine tub in her kitchen sink for scraps and buried them in her garden all year long. I have a compost bun I’ve been thinking of giving up because I forget about it from time to time. I like the set it and forget method

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Hi Toni. Your grandma is a wise woman. This method sounds strange, but absolutely works. Thanks for stopping by!!

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.