Sunday, September 25, 2005

Composting 101 - My Secret in the Backyard

I have been going into the backyard at night with a shovel for two months now. Usually I go after dinner once the dishes are in the washer and MaGreen has gone into the computer room. Our backyard does not have much lighting and I walk out to the darkest corners where there isn’t any grass. I dig a hole that’s at least one foot deep. And when the hole is made, that’s when I dump our vegetable peelings in. OK, so I'm not burying a body or anything illegal. But you have to admit that whether you are burying a body or vegetables, both lead to decomposition, worms, and enriched soil.

I started burying things because MaGreen and I are a bit lazy. MaGreen always wanted a compost pile, but we just didn't get around to starting one. It was frustrating. Putting the peelings in the garbage disposal often clogged the sink. If we threw leftovers away, the garbage smelled after a day. Once I tried to dump our vegetable peelings out the window into a flower bed, but the next morning we were embarrassed to find them scattered around on the grass and sidewalk. Then on a short trip to Brooklyn, MaGreen’s friend Sarah showed us how she just buried stuff in a tiny patch of ground underneath the patio. It was like shortcut composting. If Sarah could do it in a tiny Brooklyn “backyard”, we felt we could do it in Houston.

Soon I found myself addicted to burying things. I tried to find excuses to peel more things. Cooking and eating at home became more appealing because then I would have something to bury. Since we don’t cook meat at home, just about everything is suitable. Eggshells, onion peels, carrot shavings, the scrapings of leftover food that it wouldn’t make sense to eat, or the Vietnamese food in a doggy bag that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week. I loved how the shovel slipped into the dirt more and more easily each night. It was astonishing how quickly stuff turned back into dirt. Once I went during the day and when I turned the soil, there were three huge earthworms, flipping around in a glorious panic.

“I saw three earthworms,” I told MaGreen. She was delighted.

“That means it’s working,” she said.

As the soil assumed a moist and black consistency, I was reminded that I wasn’t only burying things for the sake of burying them. We wanted to start an organic garden and that beautiful worm-laden decomposing trench was the beginning. Our child will eat vegetables picked just before they are served. She will see the cycle of life and death – not in some Disney flick – but in her own backyard. Maybe she will go with me one night soon. And I will hold the peelings as she works the shovel. The sound of a critter scurrying along the fence or a tree branch might alarm her, but she will concentrate on the hole.


cher said...

a very well written story! makes me want to dig a hole. now i need a shovel....i could relate to lots in your blog. second baby on the way!!

'Thought & Humor' said...

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Howdy

'Thought & Humor'

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

thedeviluno said...

Thats the dumbest idea ever go read up on composting before you end up killing everyone.

GreenDaddy said...

I read up extensively on composting and burying food scraps before hand. Burying is safe and recommended by every source I consulted. (Just don't bury meat, fecal matter, grease, oil, or obviously toxic things like batteries.) Here is a link:

New York

Suzanne said...

I had to chuckle at your comment about burying things....I did the same thing this past spring. We had a huge compost bucket that became a ritual to go dig a hole when it became full.........hahaha.