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Composting Is Renewal of Life

July 4, 2010

Tags: order, birds, chipmunk, composting, Composting Is Renewal of Life, compost bins, fauna, fox, fruit, garden clippings, grapevine, herbicides, kitchen refuse, nightshade – deadly, pesticides, raccoons, raking leaves, soil bacteria, soil – compressing, squirrels, stepping stones, turning soil, vegetables, vine, weeds

Years ago, we moved into a house with a garden. The very next day I bought five composting bins. My husband declared that didn’t have my priorities right – with not a single cradle and box unpacked. I could not imagine what could be more important than starting composting.

You know what to throw in, and what not: No proteins – no fish, no meat, no cheeses. But all fruit and vegetable scraps can go in. Books (and better blogs than this) tell you how to layer kitchen refuse with garden clippings. My method is easier: Throw everything in, and let time do its business. With five bins, one is always ready with crumbly dark humus.

Another easy rule governs my gardening: No turning of the soil (except establishing a new bed). I don’t rake leaves in the fall; why would people take out of their garden what would nourish next years’ growth – and even pay to have this garden gold hauled away? The main point is to never ever step on the soil directly to not compress it. There are stepping stones all over my perennial beds and berry patches. That way, the soil bacteria have breathing room to do their good work.

Does my garden look tidy? Surely not. Some neighbors made sneaky remarks the first few seasons. They have long given up. Now everybody stands and stares and comments on the beautiful wild bloom of my garden. Because we don’t spray pesticides or herbicides, all kinds of fauna appear year-round: birds, skunks, raccoons, foxes, chipmunks, squirrels. Non-poisonous weeds I use in the kitchen – for instance the invasive wild vine that has more resveratrol in its leaves than red wine. Just be very aware that Nature can be fierce: deadly nightshade looks confusingly similar to the untrained eye. Know your stuff before you eat it!
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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