Today I tried to turn my compost heap. For the first time in three years. Eish.
I gave up after only about five minutes because I felt a bit useless. Firstly, it’s hard physical work and I’m not particularly buff. Secondly, I didn’t really know what I was doing, or what it was supposed to look like. The pile is softish at the bottom, but it seems that roots have grown all the way through – I’m not sure that’s supposed to happen??
Okay, so here’s the story:
Like many couples, we idiotically decided to move from a flat to a house in my third trimester of pregnancy (“for the baby, so s/he’ll have space to run around” – will someone please tell young mothers that children don’t run around for at least two years, and then that’s what the park is for??).
All gung ho about my new house and garden, I decided to start a worm farm. I bought one of those professional numbers with the various tiers and a jug at the bottom to collect the precious worm wee. It wasn’t exactly complicated, but I did need to monitor the quantities of waste and make sure there was always enough damp newspaper on top. I had to watch that harsh ingredients like garlic or citrus peels didn’t make their way into the container (these are not popular with worms, apparently). But I took on the project with all the zeal of a severely hormonal pregnant woman.
Then baby was born and my attention was redirected to feeding, changing and winding him 24 hours a day. I couldn’t cope with both, so the worms went (I am still – unfairly I think – known as the worm murderer among certain friends).
Although the worm farm shriveled into a useless dry heap, I still didn’t want to dispose of our organic waste in the garbage bin, as it would simply be shipped off (at an unnecessary carbon cost) to a faraway landfill, where it would have a tough time degrading in amongst all the other, non-biodegradable, waste that ends up there.
On average, we go through 3-4 tubs of organic waste a week (peels, pips and off-cuts; also includes teabags and egg shells, and expiring flowers from vases). That’s a lot of waste that doesn’t need to enter the carbon cycle.
So I started to chuck it behind the pool filter where no-one ever ventured. It never smelled bad, and although there were usually a few fruit flies around it, they stuck within a metre or so of the heap and never bothered us in the garden. The pile naturally compacted down on itself and in three years has grown no more than a few inches high.
But now that I want to use the compost that ostensibly should be waiting for me underneath, I have a problem. I have no idea what to do – how to turn it or how to tell whether it’s ready. And now I’m all sweaty and frustrated. I need a smoothie.