Awesome soil under big bluestem
Yesterday I planted a Viburnum dentatum in a back corner of the yard. I had transplanted a bunch of big bluestem into that area this spring as a place holder, and had to dig out some to make way for the shrub. Underneath was the best soil I have ever found it my yard: dark and crumbly. The shovel plunged into it with hardly any effort.
Besides the action of the bluestem roots, I think it's also the result of a layer of homemade compost I put down on it last fall, as well as a fairly rainy year that has kept that soil moist and I think has aided the process of humus formation.
That compost took so much effort in 2014 that I skipped it this year. The bulk of the browns in it were shredded oak leaves, then I made a deal with a local coffee shop and picked up five gallon buckets of coffee grounds, potato trimmings and eggshells every few days to add to it, turning it at least once a week until around July. After that I mostly left it alone except a turn or two when I had a cool morning free. At the end the volume of compost didn't seem like much compared to everything that had gone into it, which was a little discouraging although not unexpected.
Seeing that soil yesterday makes me think I might have a go at making compost again next year -- and that I'm going to plant more big bluestem.