Today was gorgeously sunny, so it seemed like a good day to check in on last year’s compost bin. I started it last summer – around mid July, so for those would-recyclers of nature’s gifts, it is never too late to start, and there’s no time like now. Basically, you’re just taking your cast off veggies, fruits, newspapers, cardboard and dead plants and letting them rot into a dark, rich, nearly black soil, with no foul odor and so so much potential for use as top soil, or as “compost tea”, which you “brew” by mixing compost with water and tapping the runoff, which you then use as fertilizer when you’re watering your plants.
I realize this sounds gross. And my latest project might sound even more gross: vermicompost, which means composting with…WORMS.
Worms may look kind of useless, what with no appendages and all, and given their liliputian size. But from what I hear, the little guys get the job done, and fast.
Anyway, vermicomposting is really not gross at all though. All winter long, I’ve been putting my fruit and veggie peelings, rinds and discards into a garbage pail in the woods near my driveway. It’s not compost, strictly speaking, because it is all “green matter”, and for a good compost, you need “brown matter” too – newpapers, wood chips, dirt, dead leaves. In fact, you need a lot more brown than green. So, my fruit and veggie bin was merely a prelude to my spring composting project. The bin doesn’t smell bad at all. It just smells….well….green. It smells green.
Today, I took a short squat container – about the size of a large convection oven –
– and I filled it about a third with set shredded newpapers. I’ve also been saving newspapers for this purpose. Then I took a drive over to the local “sporting goods” shop in Katonah. I say “sporting goods” with my fingers in little quote signs because this shop aint no Sports Authority. It ought to be called Northern Westchester Guns and Ammo. I felt nervous when I put my hand on that doorknob. It was like stepping out of my Acura MDX and into the Wild West. There were rifles of all sizes and makes leaning against a wall. Fishing rods and hooks and funky non-live bait hung from peg boards. There were packs of firewood specifically labelled “for camping”. I asked the owner if he had live bait. Earthworms, specifically. He took me to the refrigerator in the back.
When I got home, I released the little guys into the bed of newspaper and then gave them their first feeding. I dug out about a pound of my rotted fruit and veggies and plunked it down. Then I threw in some fresh strawberries and some lillies of the valley that I had grown from bare roots but that had already seen better days.
Then I took my trusty power drill and drilled air holes along the top third of the vermicompost bin, put the cover on, and set it down inside my garage until it gets consistently warmer than 50 degrees. Earthworms no likey cold nights. Who can blame them.
After my adventures in worm food, I planted the hydrangea that my neighbor brought over for me today as a thank-you gift for babysitting her FOUR CHILDREN yesterday while she made a trip to the hospital with a raisin stuck in her throat. Everyone’s fine. She survived. The children survived – even the 15-month old who had never even seen me before. And I survived and made it out in time to put on my Herve Leger bandage dress for the Big Benefit for our school system. It was the suburban version of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan.
Then I put up deer fencing around my little vegetable patch along the side of my house. I’ve decided to grow my own lettuce, basil and tomatoes this year because I find that I waste so much of all of those when I buy them from the store. This way, I can use what I need and turn the rest into gifts and….compost.
I frickin LOVE this country life. I can pretend I’m a farm girl, but then I can be in the city within an hour. I can walk around in my Sloggers (awesome, awesome gardening clogs), grab a coffee and a cookie at the Village Patisserie, buy my Advil at the local Rexall, but then put on a pair of Clergerie wedges and drive over the the CVS in White Plains or the Target in Mt. Kisco if I want the comforts of Big Box store.
Or maybe the backbends of Second Series are just making me into a manic lunatic.
Whatever it is, it will change anyway. Try to define yourself, and you’re practically guaranteed to be wrong a minute, an hour, a day or a week later.