by Eilene Lyon
The Putterer warned me several weeks ago that the compost bin was dangerously close to running over (he usually empties the kitchen slop pail). One of my spring rituals is getting the finished compost out to put in my barrels and vegetable garden.
We have one of those Darth Vader-style bins that don’t facilitate turning, so I do what I can to empty it from the bottom access port, but it really needs two: front and back. Because we live in such a dry climate, I have to add water, and the stuff close to the vents always dries out. Conversely, the bottom and center are like piss-pots.
I won’t subject you to photos of my dinner-remnants-cum-dirt. But I really have to introduce you to my worms – they are such diligent, hard-working, red round wrigglers. They’re the best!
In mid-summer, many other decomposers wander through the morass, picking out their preferred pieces of garbage to dine on, but in early spring, only the worms are still active. I do my best to preserve them all – not always possible.
It’s a learning process, when I do the clean-out, to see what actually composts and what does not. Avocado peels – NOT. Nor the plastic stickers on them. The stickers on bananas, as well as the peels, are good to go.
Sometimes something that went into the bin looking disgusting emerges looking good enough to eat: the shriveled potato now plump and wholesome; the moldy quarter of cabbage regrowing into a bright, clean new head. Guess I shoulda just put ’em in a pot of soil!
This year, I pulled out some teabags – teabags! Wait a minute. Whoever heard of non-compostable teabags? Well, I hadn’t cared for this particular tea and the bags were individually wrapped in what looked like plain white paper. But no, the paper had a plastic lining that didn’t compost at all. Hmm. Well surely the bags themselves… Nope. I pulled a used bag out and it hadn’t composted, either. That’s just wrong. Mostly, I’ve switched over to loose tea to avoid excess packaging anyway.
You might think it would be icky and smelly to dive face first into the compost bin. Not so! This year’s batch had a delightful, almost cinnamon-y scent. Very clean and enticing, actually. And it grows vegetables from garbage. Does life get any better than that?