Tuesday, November 10, 2009

End Results: Magic!

Usually the end results I'm referring to on this blog are directly edible, but today I'm rejoicing in something a little different, the result of a year -- or possibly a year and a half, it's been a while -- of weeding and paring and raking and chopping. Almost all of the vegetable offal of our lives has gone into our compost heap, and today I finished shoveling the huge pile back onto our garden plot.

I often joke to Scott that we're pulling one over on California, stealing all their nutrients to put into our own garden. During the winter, just the rinds of all the oranges we eat would likely fill the wheelbarrow more than once. Of course truthfully, most of what goes into that moldy, rotting pile is probably the weeds I pull from good ol' Delaware soil; yet it still amazes me that most of what Americans don't eat goes into the dump or down the garbage disposal. For his part, Scott is so obsessed with not wasting any organic matter that he brings me home his apple cores from work for the kitchen compost bin.

And it turns into something magical. There's no other word for it. What goes in is smelly, often slimy, and multi-colored; what comes out is rich, luxurious, black dirt. Our pile is "slow", not "hot", meaning that it takes a long time to turn the garbage into dirt and it doesn't heat up and essentially cook all the bad weed seeds and germs and such. So when I finally managed to get the thick plastic unwedged from around its huge bulk, the top third or so was still visibly pine needles and carrot peelings. Once I removed that, though, I got 4 or 5 wheelbarrows so full of dirt I could barely lift them. I succeeded in staggering the few feet over to the weed patch -- oops, I mean garden -- and dumping them.

At our local garden center they sell relatively small bags of something called "Gardener's Gold", which is basically compost soil. I don't remember exactly how much they go for (a fair amount) and don't know how much they hold compared to a wheelbarrow full, but my guesstimate is that we got $100 worth of dirt out of that pile this weekend.

Not bad for a bunch of cantaloupe seeds and cabbage cores.

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