It was Bette Midler who said:
"My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God's presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that let's you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap."
As I was taking wonderful, fresh compost out of my compost bin in the garden this afternoon I have to admit that very similar thoughts crossed my own mind. Compost rocks! That's an indisputable fact and one of the things that I'm proudest of in our garden, and on the allotment, is the quality of the compost that we make. Of course, anyone can make half decent compost if they leave waste green materials long enough (and I'm not going to go into the mechanics of compost making here because there are already plenty of excellent places to find that information on the web)... But I'm pretty proud of the fact that our composting system is now so well honed on the allotment that we're able to turn garden waste into precious, dark, delicious compost in around 3 months! Impressive huh?
So what is it that makes me so crazy about compost? There are actually a couple of different motivations that I'd like to share with you here...
- Home made compost is pretty much the best thing going to feed plants and add condition and structure to your soil. It's actually so rich in nutrients that it needs to be diluted down with other soil if you want to use it as a potting compost for seeds and seedlings! That's pretty potent stuff made all the more amazing by the fact that if you leave garden waste to its own devices it will kind of make it itself.
- A compost bin is a great way of getting rid of food waste at home (as well as plant waste in the garden or on the allotment). 40% of food that people put into the rubbish could go straight into a compost bin and what's not to love about using leftovers and scraps to create nutritious , free food for you to use in the garden?
- Finally, without wishing to sound like I'm straying too far into hippy / good life territory, Bette isn't far wrong with her evaluation of the experience of making compost. I wouldn't say I'm quite so hardcore as to compare it to some kind of religious epiphany but the process of composting does highlight the maginficence of the processes that are occuring all the time in nature. I mean, how amazing is it to think of the cycle of plant matter that's no longer needed being composted to create a substance to feed plants that, when they grow, will in turn die back and become plant matter that's no longer needed that will be composted to create a substance to feed plants that, when they grow...? You can see what I'm getting at here can't you? And the best thing is that if we are able to appreciate and understand these processes, and our own part within them as growers and gardeners, we're able to create gardens and allotments that are as abundant and self supporting as nature itself.
And that, my friends, is why compost rocks!