So, here’s the thing. I WANT to do my part, within reason, towards greener living. After all, I graduated from high school in the early ’70’s and my generation of Baby Boomers created, developed and led the movement. In fact, my generation came up with Earth Day.
But, sometimes The Universe has a different plan. And, such was the case with my attempts to create a compost pile and compost.
Basically, there are 3 elements to a successful composting experience:
If you’ve read our “About” page, you know that my husband, Charlie, and I live on 8 acres. And, most of those 8 acres are dirt. I’m a big proponent of “dirt landscaping” for a several of reasons:
- Keeps down weeds and creates a “defensible space” (stayed tuned for our “Fire” story, launching October 22nd, the 5th anniversary of the loss of our home in the 2007 Witch Fire in San Diego County).
- Lower maintenance costs
- Lower water usage
- Lower landscaping costs
- And, because we just don’t have the money to landscape 8 acres.
Why not raise crops, you wonder? Well, at one point, we leased a portion of our land to “tenant farmers” and they raised corn, watermelon and cantaloupe on our land for many, many years (it’s been 4 years since they’ve raised crops on our land; could they be the Garden Fairies?). But, the fire changed that because our insurance company will only provide us with homeowners coverage IF we don’t use our land for commercial purposes. Trust me, after a catastrophic total loss, finding an insurance company willing to take the risk again, at a reasonable cost, is a challenge.
Anyway, back to the composting story.
A couple of months ago, I decided I should create a compost pile. I thought I could use it to amend our soil, of course, plus it would cut down on the waste going into our trash and garbage cans. I had visions of beautiful, rich composting material to scatter in my garden.
My vision of rich compost is the lead picture above at top of post…
So, I did quick on-line research on composting and most articles recommended building a simple wood and chicken wire-type system or purchasing one of those composting drums at the local hardware store.
Well, I pooh-pooh’ed both ideas right away because:
- I have no building skills
- I didn’t want to spend the money on lumber or chicken wire
- I didn’t want to spend the money to hire a carpenter to make it for me
- And, I thought the ones in the stores and on-line were way too small for my grand plan!
Why not just take a walk around our property, locate a place that is hidden from view of our house’s windows (didn’t want to look at a pile of discarded food scraps all the time) and just dump it? Sounds like a good plan – so that’s what I did. I walked our property and found a location behind the one and only remaining tree that escaped the fire at one end of our property. It had easy dirt road access so I didn’t have to tramp through knee-high brush and Charlie could dump compost stuff, too (he’s handicapped and uses a scooter 100% of the time), by driving up in our John Deere Gator and giving it the old heave-ho!
Now I just needed a “vessel” to collect my composting scraps in. An old plastic 3 gallon ice cream tub will do! And, I’m reusing something that I would throw away (recycling plastic is a whole other story – stay tuned for that fiasco in another post!), instead of buying one of those cutesy counter-top composting garbage pails (oooh, I was proud of that decision-making moment: didn’t run to the store and buy something I didn’t need AND used something I already had!).
So, I started saving scraps in the ice cream bucket (which only took one day!) and dumped my first pile.
So, when I had enough for a second trip to the composting pile, about 2 days later, out I trekked.
Decimation! Destruction! Annihilation! What happened to my pile? Critters. And more critters. And more critters. Bunnies, squirrels and coyotes, oh my! Here today, gone tomorrow…
But, I decided I would keep dumping because maybe at some point, the pile would build and when mixed with the dry leaves and brush that surrounds it, I’d have beautiful compost for my garden. So, I kept dumping. And, the critters kept eating. They eat everything except onions, corn husks and egg shells. Consequently, I haven’t been able to “nurture” my pile because there is nothing left to nurture!
But, I keep feeding the critters!
So, what is the benefit of me continuing to compost? Nothing for me; no beautiful, lush, rich compost for my garden. But, a continual feast for the critters that share our land. And, less waste in my trash and garbage cans. And, less waste in our land fills. And, I like knowing that I’m feeding some critters. And, Charlie likes going for rides in his gator. And, I like going for walks with Tiffany and the Princesses P to “visit” the compost pile and dump more food for the critters. Plus, I get a little exercise. Plus, it gets me outside and away from my computer. Plus, I’m hoping to see a critter or two in the process. Plus, the egg shells, corn husk and onions will, eventually, amend the soil. A win-win for all!
Princess P on a recent visit standing next to one of our mulch piles. The “one and only surviving tree from the fire on this section of our property is over her right shoulder (I guess that’s truly her left shoulder!) and our compost pile is just beyond that tree.
P.S. The following links go to Wikipedia articles relating to the subject matter. So, if you are interested in learning more about composting, Baby Boomers, Earth Day, defensible space, the Witch Fire, tenant farmers, etc., just click on the links!