Monday, 14 December 2009

Reality Check for a Gardener

I turned a cubic metre of compost today. In other words I forked it from one container to another, the purpose being to aerate it, as brown matter (carbon), green matter (nitrogen), water and air are said to be the essential ingredients in compost making. Don't ask me why - it just says so in the books, and the answer would bore me witless, anyway. The compost was but a week old. I had carefully laid down alternate tiers of dry, brown vegetation and green, sappy lawn clippings mixed with kitchen waste and weeds just seven days previously. I've done this a hundred times before and it has always seemed quite an exhausting chore. But this time, I got to thinking about the miraculous transformation that had take place in the short space of one week. No longer recognisable were the potato peelings, orange skins, paper towels or any of the other items in the kitchen waste. No longer identifiable were the lawn clippings, leaves or weeds. Where there had been no worms seven days ago there were now hundreds - possibly thousands - and yet in those few short days the heap had risen to, and cooled from a temperature at which no earthworm could survive. I've no idea how many millions of microorganisms worked every minute of every day to achieve this miracle of nature, or how many more will beaver away their entire lives in my heap before I have a bin of rich, friable compost to spread on my garden. But as I wandered off indoors to take a rest with a cool drink while watching cricket match on the 42" plasma, I somehow felt like a lazy slob.

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