January 11, 2008

Rotting

Serious gardeners love to talk about the right way to make a compost pile. Some of my gardening friends add stuff in layers, in some kind of careful ratio. Some are very systematic about how often they turn everything over with a pitchfork. I've heard scientists argue about the optimal height for a compost pile. (Some say three feet, and others say four.) Other gardeners will argue that you should have not one, but two compost piles, so that you always have some compost ready to use.

I admit, I have nothing much to add to that conversation. I am a lazy gardener. The compost bucket in my kitchen fills up fast — as you can imagine it might in a houseful of mostly vegetarians who eat constantly. But in the cold weather, which is most of the year here, I don't bother walking all the way out to my compost pile. I put on a pair of boots, grab the bucket, go out through the garage to the raised bed gardens right near the back door, and toss the scraps right onto the vegetable garden. It just seems easier. That way, I don't have to put on my coat. And it's all going to end up in the garden anyhow, right? When spring comes, the compost thaws and decays, and I just turn it into the soil. It's probably not the optimal way to enrich my garden, but it's good enough for me.

I keep several big bowls of fruit on my counter at all times, and if ever I find a piece of fruit that is starting to rot, I usually open the back door, still standing on the kitchen linoleum in my socks, and just chuck the fruit in the direction of the garden. I do the same thing with apple cores or grapefruit rinds. My aim has gotten quite accurate. It's pretty much the only fun part of cleaning the kitchen, unless you count the sarcastic comments I have to hear from Boy in Black about how things worked so much better when he was in charge. In the cold weather, the fruit stays colourful for weeks or even months, and the compost spread across the snow can actually be quite pretty.

Compost

20 comments:

Artist Friend said...

There has been much praise from your readers lately about your photographic eye. This one really proves them right--I really do like it a lot. This speaks to me of richness and fecundity. As a photo, it's that one purple kidney bean that really pulls it together for me. There is beauty in garbage? Decay is a good thing? OK, sure...I get it!

repressed librarian said...

Except for the eggshells, this looks like a gorgeous salad!

bridgett said...

This is my method as well. Anything that the critters don't eat (I figure if they need it, it will return to the soil in a more processed form somewhere) will get hoed under eventually.

jar said...

An idea I will have to try. Your compost photo is beautiful.

listie said...

You even make garbage look pretty; mine just looks gross.

lifexhistory said...

Who knew rotting fruit could be so pretty?

Honestly, though, thanks for this post. You make me feel less guilty about my lazy composting... because i stopped turning it when J put 32546 lbs of leaves on top of the kitchen scraps and have just sort of given up until it becomes manageable!

Pink Shoes said...

That's fabulous -- the photo, the method, everything!

red-haired sister said...

Look up Ruth Stout, that is the type composting you are doing.

Gawdess said...

The colours are so vivid, I could almost smell it.

Your COMPOSiTion is good too.

jo(e) said...

Gawdess: I admit that I laughed at your corny pun.

Red-haired Sister: I think you're the one who told me I could compost this way.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Can I tell you that I love you? Where I live, there is NO WAY I could just chuck my vegetables and fruit leftovers. I have to be very careful to put it in the composter and turn the damned thing to keep from offending the neighbors.

MonkeyPants said...

Fantastic photo and very efficient composting! I just got our composter started and am exhorting everyone in the house to eat more veggies so I can fill it faster.

If I just put the stuff into the garden from the kitchen, the raccoons/skunks/coyotes would be over here for the smörgåsbord before I got back in the house!

The Simpleton said...

Oh, jo(e), will you come over and arrange my compost so that it looks like yours?

jo(e) said...

Simpleton: I'm laughing at your question, but seriously, I think your climate is too warm. The reason my compost stays pretty is because the temperatures are cold enough to preserve the colours. The lemons you see in the photo are the cut-up lemons from the bottom of the punch bowl from a holiday party we had about a month ago.

Monkeypants: Yeah, sometimes other creature come eat the compost, but in the really cold weather it gets frozen and covered up by snow pretty fast. But mostly, our house is pretty noisy and filled with the smell of adolescent males, which scares away just about everything ....

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Not to mention monster-sized cats going in and out the back door all the time...

Rokeya said...

This is a somewhat tangential question: when did you become vegan? Are your kids and husband also vegan? If so, did you raise your kids as vegans, or did they choose it? These questions always enter my mind when I read your posts about food but I always forget to ask.

jo(e) said...

Rokeya: I stopped eating meat about eleven years ago and became vegan in September of 2001. My husband is not vegan or vegetarian.

Of my kids, two chose to be vegetarians and two are not. But most of the food in the house is vegetarian so even the three members of the household who do eat meat don't eat it very often. We do usually have both cow's milk and soy milk in the house.

Cloudscome said...

I wish I could get rid of my compostables in my socks! I am afraid the skunks, groundhogs and even rats would be standing in line by the back door, however, if I started doing that. (Could it be that I need more males in my house?)

I usually try to get the bucket out to the composter at least once a week but it's hard to get the littleun's tied down first. My compost is not what it used to be...

Lilian said...

I wish I could do that too, but I guess I'll have to buy a composter like my almost neighbor Cloudscome .

No this is beyond hilarious: "But mostly, our house is pretty noisy and filled with the smell of adolescent males, which scares away just about everything ...."
and I'm sorry those who didn't read the comments missed it... :)

Aliki2006 said...

In our balmy NC weather that compost heap wouldn't last days looking as nice as it does in your photo! I agree with the others--if it weren't for the shells, I never would have guessed compost!