At the weekend my second compost heap was cold and dry. Having gutted it for the new vegetable patch, I then overwhelmed it with pizza boxes that I hadn’t torn up carefully. I just wanted to get them out of the way.
So I spent a session turning it, which was hard. Banged knuckles and regret. Then I got some of the pizza box pieces back out and retore them into smaller pieces, thinking that actually it’s a bit hard to ask a dormant heap to take on such large items.
Yesterday in the cold and drizzle I shuffled out to empty the kitchen scraps, and as I broke open the heap to bury them a bit, steam rose from the cooking middle. This compost magic gets me every time. It’s like a party trick. I made everyone come out and put their hands in the heap to feel the heat, but really I was just astonished and grateful at the way compost forgives so quickly and gets back to work.
I sometimes feel slightly awkward about the fact that I love the compost so much, and that in the up and down of academic life, compost makes me feel so competent and sorted out. So I was really delighted to read that The Dirty Lady has given her compost a name, as it shows that there’s someone much further out on the ledge than me. Here’s what she says about “the beloved heap”:
The compost heap is a place of worship for me, the living metaphor, the nucleus of transformation in the garden: garbage and clippings and slime turn into to dark, sweet soil, which in turn becomes leaves, flowers, and fruit.
Increasingly I think the secret to compost is just to respect the heap, and to try not to stuff it up.
- Midsummer Magic (dirtyladygardengazette.wordpress.com)