"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lazy Lady's Compost, and a Better Way

First, this beautiful image of Mt. Baker at sunset the night before last. I never get tired of it. It's going to be so awful after the 7,500 square foot McMansion goes in next door. *sigh.* Guess I'll plant trees: I may not be able to see this inspiring sight anymore, but at least I don't have to see an ugly and gargantuan waste of resources, portrait of everything wrong with life in America in the 21st century and an affront to all that is good and decent.


Now for something completely different: Big piles of garbage - aka kitchen waste, straw, leaves, grass clippings, animal waste and paper - gently rotting under controlled conditions into one of the basic building blocks of life on earth: soil. Sweet, fertile dirt. Composting is a miracle, an art and a science. A science that I wish I knew more about.

When I was a child, I learned (passively) about composting from my Dad, whose basic philosophy was, pile it high and leave it alone for a year. He even once buried a goat that was killed by wild dogs in the compost. That method is not highly recommended. It works - everything rots eventually, goats included - but not very quickly. I myself am still using a slightly improved version of the same process. Soiled bedding from the barn (which contains a mixture of poo from chickens, ponies, and goats) forms the main bulk of the pile. Every other day or so, I toss my kitchen scraps on top. This causes the chickens to come running and they scratch vigorously, doing some of my turning for me. They also, of course, contribute while they are there. Some hard labor with a pitchfork about once a month and occasional watering with the hose during a dry spell, and there you have my composting technique.

Yes, it could stand some improvement. Which is where this web site comes in:GoGreen.VC — Blog — Vermi Composting / Gardening / Farming(I hope that made a link. If not, please cut and paste, people. It's well worth the effort.) It turns out, composting technology has vastly advanced since my childhood! There are apparently these little creatures, these little wiggly things... oh yeah WORMS! which do most of the work for you. If you knew how much my back hurts after an hour with a pitchfork you'd appreciate worms for the wonder they are. Worms are responsible for the creation of most of the topsoil on earth (I think worms are present on every continent except Antarctica, which has a notable lack of topsoil). Without worms, we'd all be dead.

Plus, at my local country store they will give a free ice cream cone to any kid who brings in two dozen night crawlers. That right there is a great incentive to your kids to start crawling around in the compost pile butt naked like a couple of worms themselves. I know. I've been there.