Saturday, September 22, 2012

Started Composting Again

When we moved from Connecticut I left my two compost bins behind. The sixteen year old plastic box type we bought from the store which was too small for our household and gardening scraps sat alongside a homemade compost bin I designed based on something I saw in a magazine which my father happily built for me about fifteen years ago. We figured taking apart and cleaning off dirty bins partially filled with compost-in-process was a bit nuts. The realtor disapproved of my leaving them there and wanted them removed from the property so the house would look brand new. The house was 23 years old, it was not brand new, a fact plain to potential buyers, so if compost bins behind the garage in the woods were a problem for a buyer then that's their problem. They could throw them away after they bought it if they wanted.

For the last 13 months we have thrown away our household scraps which was very hard for me to do and felt quite wrong. I value compost and it killed me to throw away perfectly good scraps that I knew could transform into black gold. I appreciated compost in my Connecticut garden and new it helped plants thrive. Here in Texas I met a new kind of soil which is either a very sandy dry nothing or a dense clay mass. If ever there was soil that needed compost, it is this Houston soil. However the gardens in the rented house were thriving thanks to past loving care from the former owner so I didn't feel too badly for not contributing to their future success. They were boring tropical plants that didn't stir my heart or soul.

Since moving to the new house I have enjoyed looking at the many garden plantings which have not required much maintenance from me. Now that the hardest part of moving is over, now that the total chaos phase is done, I actually have room in my brain to wonder what lurks beneath the surface of those gardens. I took some time to poke around this weekend and noticed small dead shrubs and some suffering rose plants, thanks to being planted in shade instead of full sun. I also noticed the sandy areas and the dense clay. It's horrible. These established garden beds need compost and they need it badly. They also lack mulch and the whole place needs yards and yards of mulch.

Yesterday my husband and I headed to Home Depot and I was pleased to find a plastic garden box type compost bin just like my old one only double the size and half the price. I wonder how they managed to pull that off? Perhaps the old one was made in USA and the new one is made in China? Remember the days when things slowly got more expensive over time and when you wanted something larger and it cost more than the small one? I do, so when I see the opposite phenomenon it seems so strange.

Today we are setting up the compost bin. I am curious if the increased heat here will make the scraps break down faster, I bet it will. I have read that finished compost put on the garden breaks down twice as fast. We'll see. I started collecting scraps already and can't wait to turn them into black gold. There is something satisfying about taking trash and turning it into treasure with minimal effort. Walking the scraps to the bin and tossing them inside is all the manual labor it takes.


Julia Hones said...

True. I've never used bins. I bury it in the garden and it becomes soil in two months. Now I have to move so I stopped doing it and I am debating whether I should be taking some of that fertile soil...

scimum said...

I have not been composting for 18 months and it feels extremely wrong to me as well. We are in an apartment with a large, tiled balcony and no garden whatsoever. I want to start growing plants in pots but we are quite likely to move on again in the next few months and it doesn't feel worth it. I know you can do lots with a balcony but I really hope we can get somewhere with a garden next.