As I looked out at the ocean at low tide yesterday, (after admiring the blue expanse and musing on the oneness of all life), I focused on the seaweed clinging to the rocks. “That would be great for our compost pile back in Amherst!” I thought.
But then I realized that climbing down among the wet rocks was dangerous, and I didn’t like the idea of seaweed stinking up the car on the way home.
So we did the next best thing. We asked our hosts if we could have the fruit and vegetable peels, corn shuckings and eggshells from two days of meal preparation. We bagged them up and brought them home.
This is compost season. Before we left, I had received a wheelbarrow-ful of grass clippings from a neighbor, and I layered them with our own kitchen waste and last year’s leaves, plus dirt, weeds and water. We filled the bin up to the top. The temperature inside the pile rose to 140 degrees, enough to kill the weed seeds and speed the decomposition (it had “cooled” to 136 when we got home, as shown in photo).
Awaiting us when we got home was another wheelbarrow-ful of grass clippings. Since compost shrinks in volume as it decomposes, our bin had some space in it, so we repeated the process, this time using our Rockport kitchen waste. Then we put the lid on and stuck the thermometer back in. I love following the temperature as it rises.
Compost is precious to all organic gardeners, and you can never have too much. It’s easy to buy it, but making it can be fun. We have two black Earth Machines in which we layer leaves and kitchen waste for most of the year. Then in the summer, after our neighbor cuts his grass, we empty out the Earth Machines and move the leaf/kitchen waste mixture to our circular compost bin. The grass clippings provide the nitrogen to help make it heat up.
Compost is natural fertilizer for garden soil. It helps soil retain moisture and provides nutrients to growing plants. This year I tried putting compost in buckets that had holes cut in them, and then planted tomatoes around them. They’re taller than me now!
It was wonderful spending two days by the ocean with our friends. And we loved bringing back this souvenir of our visit!
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