Monday, May 2, 2011
In Praise of Compost
Well, it occurs to me that the subject of compost is a perfect intersection of flowers and philosophy. Those who compost know the tremendous satisfaction in taking what others call 'garbage' and with the mighty help of nature turning that 'garbage' into wonderful dark compost that closely resembles soil and is more nourishing than non-composters would ever believe. One of my grandmothers, when I asked her how she grew such wonderful flowers and vegetables in an apartment complex flower bed, said that she planted a row of food scraps and a row of seeds. That memory came back to me when I became a serious gardener after we retired. Oh, we had tried over the years to garden, but time and energy were siphoned off to family and jobs and we didn't take the time to learn enough about gardens. Now we have these three big oak trees, two in front and one in back, and they generate a lot of leaves for months and months in the fall and winter, then they turn around and drop oak tassels in early spring. So we have learned to take every leaf and shred it, dump every vegetable scrap from our kitchen and dead wimpy plants from the garden into our heap, and let everything go back to nature. And that's the philosophy part. Because watching leaves and scraps and debris turn into rich plant mulch that protects and feeds is fascinating. And surely this is part of the grand design of our planet. Trees in the forest drop their leaves which turn into food and shelter for the tree roots. The prairies used to do the same thing, when we used to leave them alone. There is a mystical satisfaction in growing flowers and food that feeds our senses and our table and lets us participate in this circle of life.