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Some Seriously Good Shit

Let’s hop into Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine (yes, I am definitely showing my age here) and travel to April 2008.  I’d only been blogging a couple of months, and we’d just purchased and spread what quickly became known as “ass mulch” in our gardens.  I wrote a mildly amusing post about it, which ended with some questions I had about what people do who produce their own compost and mulch.

“…that made me think about those people who are of a green and/or money saving disposition and make their own compost and mulch. The “why” part of that is understandable, but I have a real problem with the “how??” Where do you put it while it’s getting all, well, ripe? I can’t see keeping it in the house or garage, so do you just, like, keep a big pile of slowly decomposing crap in the back yard?…Do you fence it off and post large “Beware of Mulch” signs? Go all Martha Stewart and construct a camouflaging-yet-decorative container out of old, flowered-patterned sheets and wire coat hangers?”

Oh, if I could have only seen into the future.

At the time of that post, we had two 8′ X 4′ garden plots in our back yard where we planted a few peppers and tomato plants, as well as a nice herb garden at the eastern side of the house.  The herb garden is still there, and these days those two garden plots are home to our perennials:  strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus.  We’ll add peppers and okra as the season progresses, and probably plant tomatoes along the southern border of our yard, where they’ll share space with some lovely gladiolas, like we did last year.  (This year we’ve added 3 huge raised beds and are starting our own seeds, but that’s another story all together; maybe if next week’s Spin Cycle is “Ways You’ve Gone Off The Deep End.”)

The first year we had the gardens they did extremely well, but each year the quality of produce we’ve grown has declined.  It finally occurred to us that – duh – we probably needed to start adding some sort of compost to the soil.

And my questions about just how one makes their own compost were quickly answered.  Forget the flowered sheets and coat hangers – you buy these:

Compost Bins

Compost Bins.

The reason they’re so far apart is that there was a large shrub in that space until Beloved cut it down recently – and yes, it is quite likely a third bin will be put there.

As a result of these compost bins, we’ve become rather obsessive about what goes into them, and now have a good-sized container on one of our kitchen counters where we throw coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as egg shells and things hiding in the bottom of the produce bin in the refrigerator that I might have forgotten about (ahem).  Beloved’s become even more obsessive over his nitrogen-to-carbon ratio, as well as the temperature (apparently our first batch never got “hot” enough).  We shred white paper at the office (we’ve also added a compost bucket there and urge our employees to dump their coffee grounds, as well as their banana peels, in it), and save the fallen leaves from our trees – quite frankly, I was surprised that Beloved didn’t offer to rake all of our neighbors lawns this fall.

So you can only imagine his reaction when, on a recent visit to one of our farmers, we saw that they’d been shoveling out their barn and a large mound of what they’d been shoveling was sitting there, mixed with hay and so hot that it was literally shimmering in the cool morning air.  To give Farmer Doug credit, he’s been dealing with us long enough that he was able to keep a straight face when Beloved excitedly asked him if we could take from what Farmer Doug and and his wife have dubbed Mount Manure.

My Better Half had dubbed it Some Seriously Good Shit.  He’s literal that way.

We are probably the only people in the state of Ohio who drive around every Saturday morning, running our errands, with six 5-gallon pails of cow poop in the trunk of our car.

Spring has finally arrived.

For some less fragrant “Spring” spins, visit Gretchen at Second Blooming.


13 comments

Michele says:

The first year we put in our BIG (30 feet by 40 feet, opposed to our small garden 16 feet by 24 feet) I called the local dairy. They were happy to deliver 15 cubic yards of the prettiest cow manure you ever saw and it wasn’t “hot”. Meaning that it had aged for about a year. We tilled it in to a depth of 12 inches. My garden that year was amazing. I set us up on a yearly delivery of 5 yards and our dozen chickens and scraps provided the rest. That Seriously Good Shit is just that.

The dairy farmers in our area would make a tea out of it and spray it on their fields. Smelly but effective.

VandyJ says:

I grew up with a compost bin on the counter–a container where all the veggie scraps and such ended up. However, ours went through a different sort of composter–we had chickens and fed all the scraps and stuff to them. They kindly processed it for us and we cleaned the chicken house regularly and spread the results on the garden. Worked like a charm.

Michele says:

Vandy, Our chickens were the best composters ever.

Jan says:

Beloved spread last year’s compost on this year’s gardens after he’d built the raised beds – I’ll post a photo of them soon – which was actually mixed with some composted manure from Farmer Doug’s barn that was shoveled out last year. The hot stuff went into the compost bin from this winter’s mixture – it should be fabulous by the time it’s ready to spread.

(I’m sure I’m botching the explanations for all this – the hubby is the expert.)

Lisa says:

My sister and I were just talking about the WABAC machine!

“Help, Mr. Wizard!”

I can’t do compost. Too much baggage from my marriage. Yes. I did just say that.

Gretchen says:

You got it! Expect a “Deep End” (or maybe I’ll call it Obsession?) spin in a couple of weeks. I made a compost bin a couple of years ago, and worked at it determinedly for about…4 months. It now sits sadly neglected on the side of the house. I clearly need to step off into your deep end.

You are linked!

Alaina says:

You had me at “ass mulch.” Too funny! Not sure I have the patience to do my own composte. But I think it’s awesome that so many people do it!

Janice says:

Oh, good, funny stuff. We have composted since the early 70′s. It has been more like a scrap pile but keeps stuff out of the water systems and land fill. We could learn from your better half.

Be says:

I am really only just learning but eventually, EVERYTHING decomposes. Old piles are fine.

Now if you can get enough carbon and nitrogen in a big enough pile you can get what is called a “Hot” compost – like the steaming pile of shit Farmer Doug has. The big benefit there is that it decomposes much more quickly. Once hot, keep feeding it, especially nitrogen sources, until it can no longer get hot – then it is “cooked”.

The problem I have is having enough at the same time. And in the summer, carbons are hard to come by – in the winter so is nitrogen. But there are all kinds of sources. For example, Starbucks has a company policy that if a customer asks for it they will give you their coffee grounds. It, like all marking is seasonal.

Of course the best benefit of a “hot” compost is that if big and hot enough, nearly everything natural will decompose. Even flesh and bones – like road kill. Hey – with a little planning it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than divorce! ;)

Jan says:

Gee, thanks dear!

Everyone, if I disappear, you know where to look for me!

Sean says:

Unsubscribed! I’m deeply offended by your language! I’m just glad my six-year-old didn’t see this potty language, even though he can’t really read, it could’ve scarred him for life.

Jan says:

Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this, Mr. “It’s Just Words.”

Go ahead, unsubscribe – I’ll sic Nikoley on ya, and you know what HE’LL say. :P

Be says:

Good Gawd Sean, I’m glad she didn’t tell you that what I really call Farmer Doug’s Mount Manure is a “Steaming Pile of SHIT!”

AW SHIT – there goes another dozen readers.

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