We all have to deal with difficult items now and then. Nasty things — like leftover fish bones, crabshells or spoiled eggs. Dear things — like a favorite pair of shoes, too stained and tattered to wear anymore. Or the body of your beloved pet. Smelly things — like spoiled cheese, chicken manure (We’ve got plenty of that nowadays), and those nasty socks with big, unrepairable holes in the toes. Make those things go away — plant ’em.
A good-sized hole can hold any amount of vegetable scraps and old bones. Dig it deep — then plant squash or zucchini seeds on top, for a good source of nitrogen as the garbage decays. (I still remember reading somewhere that the “grandest grapevine in Britain” grew where a number of horses were buried some time before.) Native Americans often buried a fish in each hill of squash and corn, for better yields; in fact, this method kept the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest alive and flourishing. Also works for planters and deck pots.
Bury your beloved friend in the herb or flower garden. They’ll enrich the soil, and you’ll have a healthy, nourished plant to keep their memory evergreen. (Buck, our 14-year-old Weimaraner, rests under a thicket of sage — because he was a “sage” dog. Goonie, his companion for more than a decade, literally “brings up daisies” nearby. Somehow these silly puns are just as comforting as the memory of the animals we loved so much.)
Any kind of natural material decays and adds humus to the soil. Try lining your next raised garden bed with old newspapers, towels or t-shirts — then pile the soil on top. Keeps weeds at bay longer. Or put a sock or dishtowel in the planter first: the potting soil won’t leach out as you water the plants.
Composting is good. (A helpful guide is here.) So is manure. One warning note, though: if you use manure, spread it a few weeks before you plant — or keep it well away from the seedlings. Fresh manure can ‘burn’ new plants if it comes in contact with them.
It can only do you — and your garden — a world of good.