Winter Application of Biosolids On Perennial Beds - December 2023

I've used biosolids (municipal biosolids from Downers Grove) in various ways over the years on our property - topdressing of my lawn in spots, as an amendment and accelerant in our compost bins, as a vertical mulch to try to improve the soil/clay conditions in my front porch bed (along with leaf litter), as a soil/perennial bed amendment with stump grindings to attempt to balance the nitrogen loss, as a little boost when planting new shrubs like the SnowQueen Oakleaf Hydrangeas and most recently as both soil cover and hole-filler in the newly extended IB2DWS bed area with my new dwarf conifer garden and new (to me) flowers. 

This year, I'm going to be using them in a few (new to me) additional ways:  first, as a dormant application on top of my beds.  This Fall, I blew most of the leaves out of my beds and chopped them up with the mower.   I then blew some of those chopped leaves back into the beds and left plenty of small pieces in the lawn.  

Think of this as...sort-of... "Leaving the leaves".  I don't actually leave most of them.  But, I don't take any off my property.  My first goal is filling up my compost bins to the top with leaves.  Once that's done, I start to mow them in.  Then, I go back and fill up the bin again, as it has compacted with time.  Then, back to the mower.  I alternate until the leaves are all gone. 

But...if I'm being honest, the leaves are never all gone.  Our Oaks hold onto leaves late into the season, so we get Northern Red Oak leaves falling all the way until Spring.  But, at some point - which we've now reached in early December, I call it quits with the mower. 

This year, I opted against the application of hardwood fine mulch cover in our beds.  We went without mulch all year.  So, the small amount of leaf litter is welcome soil cover.  But, with all the planting and transplanting - and simply erosion - we have ended up with plenty of spots of bare soil.  

This past week, I went over to the mulch pit and gathered a load of biosolids and tossed them on spots where the bare soil was showing.  

Below are a couple of photos where I dumped 2 gallon buckets of biosolids on the perennial beds.  They'll spend the Winter there - where they'll get settled in, hopefully improve the soil, combine with the leaves and help me get a little closer to loam.  The biosolids will also, slow-feed all the perennials and (hopefully) suppress weeds. 

When I was building the Boardwalk earlier this Summer, I noticed the soil conditions around the Frans Fontaine Hornbeam trees could use some improvement.  While I want to be sure to avoid burying the root flare of these trees, I opted to dump some biosolids around the drip line.

I'm going to try to get over to the Mulch Pit a few times this Winter (will they still have biosolids all Winter?  I'm not sure.) to bring back a few more loads.  


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