As I sit looking out of my writing shed at all the snow, I feel the need to plant something. We’ve gotten one snowstorm after another in that past couple of weeks; it seems that spring will never actually arrive no matter what the calendar says.
This yearning to get my hands in the rich dirt of my garden has me thinking of other parts of growing things:
April is Earth Month, and as we think of ways to honor and heal the earth, recycling is at the top of the list. Compost is one way to recycle.
At its most basic form, compost is easy.
Throw leftovers, lawn clippings, and other organic matter into a container, let it sit for a while, stirring occasionally and it will turn into compost. That is, it will become a dark, rich substance that you can use in the garden to add nutrients.
Seems simple enough.
We’ve tried it around our place, in fact, more than once, and have ended up with failures.
We’ve discovered that it takes a bit more actually to make compost. Research has turned up recipes. The following is one that we discovered:
50-70% browns (leaves, hay, dry matter)
30-50% greens (grass, garbage, manure)
0-5% black (dirt, old compost)
Recipe comes from allspecies.org
Yeah, who measures? Aren’t you supposed just to be able just to throw your rotten food and clippings from your lawn and it turn into compost?
Oh, and you need a special container, one that is durable and has air holes. You must be able to stir the materials and make sure it doesn’t dry out.
You can create an open air one, but then there is the concern that critters will get into it, dragging your precious materials around the yard.
There appears to be no end to the complications to compost.
My desire to be able to create this magical substance is to help keep unnecessary chemicals out of my food. What happens when failure hits from every side in my quest to improve the soil?
Fortunately, a couple of options present themselves:
We live across from a dairy farm which has an abundance of fertilizer and while I cannot guarantee it is without added chemicals, it is an inexpensive source of added nutrients.
Also, a commercially prepared compost product called Dairy Doo is available in my area. The actual company is about 20 miles from my home. It is also available in store and mail order.
Although we don’t have chickens currently, that is always a possibility. These girls eat just about anything and when their droppings are mixed with the sawdust bedding, you have the raw material for compost with little work. I say compost because, in order for this to work well, it needs to set a while otherwise it is too rich.
Not to mention, when you have backyard chickens, the fresh eggs are fabulous.
I seek a simpler life where composting is easy and the garden overflows. I’m not sure I will ever find it.
Maybe, I will attempt composting again this summer, with or without the chickens.