Compost – September 21, 2020

As much as the title seems to fit – take your pick – the political environment and upcoming elections, wildfires raging1, politicizing what should be the least political of the three branches of national  government, the COVID19 pandemic or nondemic, unsportsmanlike conduct of the most visible professional sports organizations and athletes; but wait, there’s more! That’s all here in the United States.  For a WP fact, I’m aware there are compost piles in (for example) the UK with Brexit and the question of Scottish servitude to a government many Scots feel holds the whole of Scotland in slavery, tensions between India and China, ongoing Mideast conflict, and so on.

Have I brightened your day?  Well, none of that sunshine is what I refer to.

I’m talking compost.  Real compost.  If you’re a gardener, you know what compost is.  If you’re absurdly conscious of what it means to ‘recycle,’ a genuine environmentalist, a tree-hugger of the first water, you understand ‘compost.’  If you walk the walk, not just talk the talk, you do it.  You compost.

For those who think I been on the back deck smoking some strange herb, or poured one too many bourbons, maybe a bit of explanation is in order.

Composting is not difficult.  It’s inconvenient most of the time, especially for suburban and city people.  So inconvenient, I will allow I understand how some folks don’t do it, wouldn’t do it if they understood it.  It means taking vegetable waste and by supporting and encouraging the process of decomposition, converting it to soil amendment. 

I live in the ‘burbs.  Don’t like it, but I do.  At present, anyway.  And I do compost.  Even in the ‘burbs, with my neighbor close enough when my eyes are working, I can read his lips while we chat each standing on our own back decks. 

The concept is simple.  When you peel2 your potatoes, you don’t chuck those peelings into the garbage or plop them into your heavy-duty garbage disposal. You place them in a small container3 sitting conveniently on your kitchen countertop right next to your sink. Or beside your butcher block cutting board.  Or within arm’s reach of your country manor double concrete sinks.  Or your top-chef prep table.

When the container fills, which hopefully is well before the contents have waited long enough they begin decomposing in-situ, take the container to your compost pile.4  That’s the rub.

Here at our place, we race.  I empty the compost pot nearly daily.  I wash it, tossing the rinse water into the thirstiest herbs, veggies, or houseplants. The Senior chef feels duty-bound to fill the compost pot as quickly as possible.  I empty, she fills.  Chef is a pro.  There have been times I’ve made extra trips to my compost “pile.”5   Placing the empty and cleaned pot back in its place, I no sooner turn around than it’s full again. Unbelievable.  Believable when she’s putting-up tomatoes – sauce, paste, salsa, juice – or corn on the cob, but not when dinner is baked salmon and steamed or roasted broccoli.

Composting is a small effort.  On a daily basis, about a standard shovel full of (eventual) dirt avoids landfill and enriches our garden plots and flowerbeds.  Every day.  One shovel full.  Times what, how many million houses in the US?  How many days in a year? 

Next the tin cans.  Used to do that but the city stopped recycling.  Where am I going to put them?  Nobody in the hood can see my compost pile.  If I save cans to take to metal recycling places, by the time I have a load ready for my little practice truck, the neighbors would have good reason to be complaining.

Pick your battles.  One crusade at a time. Today compost.  Tomorrow cans and glass.  Day after, paper and plastic.  COVID is getting in the way some right now.  Mistaken economics will come into play when COVID is no longer an issue.  But you gotta start.  You gotta make the effort, invest the time.

Rather like politics.  And tolerance without being bullied into allowing lunacy.  Draw a line.  Hold the line.  Won’t get done unless you do something.   Every Jack and Jill one of us.

PSA: Here are links to a few of the blogs I enjoy.  They are older duffs like me, except they have interesting perspectives, pleasant senses of humor, and stories to tell. Stories worth reading.  If you’re one of “us,” you’ll enjoy what they have to say, even if they torque your jaws now and again.  If you’re one of the younger folks, you might want to take a look, just to keep an eye on us older doobers; make sure we don’t cause trouble. Most of the time, we’re all decent sorts, but now and again, we like to stir things up.

1 Reported in California, Oregon, and Washington state by national news feeds not preoccupied with politics, riots, professional sport non-seasons, Kardashian events, CMA and Emmy narcissism, and peaceful riots.  Expanded by reports from a Colorado correspondent to include Colorado and Wyoming.  Not discounting fires in South America, past fires in Australia and elsewhere.

2 If you peel your potatoes, we’ll devote another whole blog to you.  Why do you get all heated-up about the latest fad, probiotic this, all-natural that, yet strip your spuds of valuable nutrients and those quite tasty skins?  If you are one of those who pays money for microbial supplements, stop paying for them; leave a little extra dirt on the spuds when you wash and de-eye them; get all the gut-festering germs you need from your local green-grocer.  Pretty much for free.  Don’t, however, tell the yuppies and Californians our little secret or the demand for dirty potatoes will cause the grocers to start charging more for spuds with natural, organic, GMO-free, non-gluten dirt.

3 Capable of holding about a gallon of stems, peelings, seeds, pits, too-long-in-the-crisper, nobody-liked-that-variety fruit, leavings Aunt Snickerdy loaded her plate with but didn’t eat, and other defensible trimmings.  If you’re posh-conscious, you can get a classy-looking chrome, stainless, or fired-pottery piece to compliment your modern, country, Tuscan, or Space Age décor.  A conversation piece, which after initial “Eeews!” you get when you answer questions from less sophisticated folks, will open the door to your proselytizing wasteful, eco-unfriendly people into the fold of economic, earth-saving souls.

4 Compost pile.  A name, not necessarily a description.  If you’re hurt for space, just a piece of your veggie/herb garden lying fallow.  Turn the dirt, lifting a spadeful up, plop the container contents into the hole and cover them with the dirt. If you’ve land enough for a for-real “pile,” make one. Contrary to what Boderick Swartz IV believes, properly decomposing compost does not “stink.”  It does have an earthy smell, but it’s not any more offensive than new-mown hay is to some city peeps. The trick when you “pile” is not to let the working compost get too wet or too dry – about like that bag of “mulch” you paid sixteen bucks for. And turn it daily.  It decomposes into, believe it or not, “dirt” faster than you might believe. And it is top quality dirt, full of nature’s good, unh, “stuff.”

5 My current compost “pile” is a wheelbarrow in the garage. About 16 quarts of topsoil was the starter.  When I add to the “pile,” I turn and mix the old and new. By the next day, most of what I added the day before cannot be seen separate from the “dirt.”  That doesn’t mean I can toss half a head of cabbage into the pile.  That would take time to decompose.  Larger pieces have to be sliced, diced, chopped, or otherwise shredded for the process to accelerate.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

7 thoughts on “Compost – September 21, 2020

  1. Thanks for the mention. It’s scary that somewhere would stop recycling. Presumably there was a cost associated with it that they did not want to pay? It did make me think, how do you *force* somebody to do the right thing?

  2. “Force”: Dunno. If you figure that out – share. Ah, but then, we are faced with “who decides ‘what is right’?” Thanks for stopping by and the comment. Oh, lot of us don’t actively “market” ourselves. Strikes me a waste, so I’ve become something of a cheerleader.

  3. Thanks for the blog recommendations. The Past is Back is a lot of fun. Sometimes I need a jolt to remember it. The grandkids find the past totally foreign, no cell phones, no laptops, no cable tv. It seems antediluvian to them, “wait, how did you do your homework?”

  4. Well, thanks for mentioning me. You MUST have better things to do, like, I don’t know, poke your eye out with a stick? 🙂 While we don’t actually “compost,” all our veggie scraps get thrown out into the back yard where it either feeds the wildlife (rabbits, raccoon, birds, visiting brother-in-law, etc) or it feeds the grass. My raised-beds are powered by mushroom compost from our local supplier. Grows most anything (and weirdly shaped cauliflower that could star in a 50’s sci-fi movie). Recycle place here doesn’t want tin cans but I have about 9 50-gal plastic bags of soda cans to redeem someday I’m not feeling lazy; or 68 years old. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for looking in and taking time to poke a comment. Recommended your site because if it’s good it should be seen. Circle the wagons old dudes, won’t be long we’ll be the only ones what understands us. Enjoy your work, obviously.

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