Compost Pile Planting with Butternut Pumpkin

This is the first year I have ever tried composting.  My intent was to have nicely finished compost bins with a three compartment design which I could use to gradually transfer the compost as it cooked.  This blog post talks an experiment I made with compost pile planting.

Growing Vegetables in a Compost pile

I’ve dabbled at composting in the past by using trench composting, and on the spot composting with lunch bags method, but this year I decided to try my hand at a real compost pile.

Butternut Pumpkin –  Compost Pile Planting

As with everything thing else that happened this summer, that was supposed to be a “next year” project.  But, curious as I am, I decided to just make some piles to see what happened.

I went out to breakfast on Father’s day and, when walking back to my car, noticed a house with about 18 bags of leaves set out.  My industrious husband “made friends” with the owner and she was delighted to give them to us.

We ran over them with a lawnmower and they became the base of several rolling compost piles.  Lawn and garden clippings and a pail of household vegetable scraps and odds and ends, coffee grounds, peanut shells, dog hair and whatever other organic thing I could lay my hands on got gradually added to the compost pile.

I just kept moving the piles from one spot and turning the compost piles over to another every couple of days.  And kept watching.   I had no idea what, if anything, would happen.

By July, I had several piles of compost that had broken down to about 1/3 of the original amount and looked like the sort of stuff one finds in a forest floor – nice rich, dark humus.  It smelled wonderful too – so earthy.  I could not believe the pile had matured so quickly.

By this time, my vegetable garden was partly planted with tomatoes, green peppers, corn, beans and carrots.  But I wanted more.  The gardening bug had severely bitten me.  “What would happen if I did an experiment with compost pile planting by putting some butternut pumpkin seeds right on top of that compost pile?” I wondered.

I added some top soil, stirred it all around and planted right into the compost.  This is what I have in August:

compost pile planting
Close up of the compost itself:

compost pile plantingAnd lo and behold:

butternut pumpkins in a compost pile
This morning when I went out and looked, I had two more babies.
compost pile plantingI guess it’s safe to say that compost pile planting works for me.

I planted cucumbers and summer squash, as well as watermelons into three more compost piles.  More to come on those projects later.

What about you readers?  Have you ever tried planting directly in a compost pile?  I’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section below.

Update July, 2014.  This compost pile was in one place for a few years.  I didn’t plant anything in it…just added more and more kitchen scraps and yard waste.  I went outside and two HUGE butternut pumpkins were growing. They were at least a foot long and 8 inches across.  I assume they grew from the seeds in the kitchen scraps. What a surprise!

What should go in a compost pile?

A good compost piles needs greens and browns, but what does that mean?  See these articles for more ideas on what to add and what NOT to add to your compost pile.

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  2 comments for “Compost Pile Planting with Butternut Pumpkin

  1. 08/13/2013 at 10:13 am

    I’ve done it by accident a few times, does that count? I would have thought the pile would get too hot for tomato and squash seeds to survive, but there have been several years that I had the best tomatoes just from those germinating in the pile – they love it!

    • admin
      08/13/2013 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Jacki, this pile had cooked a bit and I had moved it once. (I use a rolling compost pile method.) So, it had sort of broken down. Sure was good for the squash though!


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