Gut Rumbles

March 16, 2007

A compost bin

Originally published March 15, 2005

I wonder how many tree-hugging, lunatic environmentalists know how to make compost? Mama did it for years and always had the prettiest, richest BLACK dirt in her garden. For a while after I moved to Effingham County, I saved my lawn clippings and vegetable table scraps in plastic bags and I would bring them over to toss into the compost on weekends.

Once I started a garden of my own, she didn't get that good shit anymore. I saved it for myself. She taught me how to make compost.

You can build a compost bin out of wood or chicken wire. If you use wood (I did), just make sure you leave enough space between the boards for plenty of air to get in there. Dump lawn clippings, sawdust, peanut hulls, fireplace ashes, dead leaves, vegetable scraps from the table and just about anything else you can think of that isn't meat and allow it to decay. Wet it down with a water hose and keep it moist.

Turn the compost with a pitchfork every couple of days. Roll it around so that it can breathe and you'll get aerobic decomposition--- it won't stink. In fact, it smells rich and fecund and you'll sprout a big crop of red wiggler worms in there before long. The worms are good for the compost, too, because they help to aeriate it. (Mine was going so good that I once considered starting a worm farm.)

If you pile up compost and DO NOT stir it, you'll have anaerobic decomposition occur and the bin will smell just like rotting garbage. You don't want that, so go agitate it every couple of days. Keep it wet.

I built my bin in two sections. The first part was for new stuff and the back part was for stuff almost ready to spread in the garden. All that vegetation will break down, decay and start to look just like potting soil if you do it right. I would take that almost-ready stuff and pitch it into the back bin with a shovel, and continue tending both sides the same way.

I became a very good composter and that stuff is GREAT in a garden. Not only did you spare the landfills from disposing of your waste, you created wonderful home-made dirt. Plants love it. When the back bin was ready to use, I spread it all over my garden. I grew some good stuff that way.

Plus you get an added bonus in using compost in your garden. Never did it fail that I had a crop of cherry tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers and cantelopes spring up as "volunteers" from my home-made dirt. Those seeds are hardy and they survived the compost operation.

If you garden, start a compost bin. It's good for the garden, good for "the planet" and good for growing things you never planted.

Try it. You'll LIKE it.

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