Don't Mind Me: I'm Composting

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I’ve been thinking about composting a lot lately. We pulled in the garden a couple weeks back and we’re trying to figure out how we can improve the garden’s productivity next year. As I’ve mentioned, some things did really well in our garden this past summer, but that’s not to say that we had a miraculous vegetable garden our first time out. We were definitely victims of our own limited understanding of gardening. The wind battered the onions to oblivion, the spinach simply refused to go, the squash sat stagnantly all summer long. And the soil? The soil could use some testing and alterations.

Soil has always been a struggle in our neck of the woods and our raised beds by the cabin are filled with a concoction of who-knows-what: bags of black dirt, the naturally occurring sand in the area, whatever came with the nursery plants. Growing up, my parents’ garden was a veritable field of clay. I watched them dump manure and ashes on the soil. And we saved all of our kitchen scraps and took them “out back” to the compost heap.

Frankly, when I was little I thought the compost was disgusting. The pail we threw all the kitchen scraps into always smelled terrible. The pile could attract bears to the yard and it took forever for the decomposition to actually occur.

Now that I’m grown, I’ve come to see the virtue of composting. It only makes sense to save your food waste and turn it into something that can drastically improve your garden’s soil.

On Monday, I went out back to spend some time with our compost pile at the cabin. I separated out the most recent additions to the pile into its own pile and discovered a rich, black soil forming in the pile’s bottom half. It’s pretty amazing. I have my fingers crossed that the latter bit of compost will be ready to be spread over the garden come spring.

It struck me that it’s time for me to turn over my own compost pile. I’ve been spending the last five months wound around an out-of-the-house job. I’ll still be tied to the job throughout the winter as I work a couple days from home, but I’ll have much (much!) more time for writing. Now is the time to delve deep inside the part of me that supposed to have been experiencing a wonderful transformation and rejuvenation during my “otherwise engaged” summer. Now is the time to pull out the neglected writing projects, to re-engage with conversations with editors who have likely forgotten about me, to start querying, and doing ferocious self-promotion.

Compost still isn’t always a “good time.” And I can’t say I’m really looking forward to plunging my elbows into my own compost heap and doing all the grunt work that comes with any sort of writing success.

After all, compost takes some getting used to. But if we refuse to turn our compost, or if we just give up on stuff that looks like waste, we’ll never know what can become of things we’ve let sit for a while. I am looking forward to seeing what blossoms when my compost turns to soil.


  1. See if you can find some horse manure to your compost pile. That will help so much next year when you add it to your raised beds. I am sure a local horse owner would be happy to share with you. That is what I use.

  2. Beautiful! I love this insight!


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