Friday, April 22, 2016

Rich, Dark and Crumbly

Nobody wants to read about compost. Amirite? It's like bragging about your baby's potty habits. It's decaying plant material, brown and unattractive. Mine is in a long windrow hidden behind the spruce berm.

But oh, I can't resist. I have the best compost this year.

For two years I left a long stretch of dirt and garden debris covered by a green tarp. It was ugly and utilitarian, and got overwhelmed with nearby weeds in summer. Huge weeds -- giant fleeceflower and pokeweed and thistles and vining things whose roots crawled in under the tarp. A black snake lived under there and raised a family.

This winter I took the cover off, spread last year's raked leaves over the area, and let late winter snow and rain wet them down.

Now, after two years under the tarp and with decayed brown leaves mixed in, I have glorious black gold. Crumbly, soft, beautiful compost. Almost an endless supply.

I've been digging it up, sifting out all the sticks and branches and woody stalks that found their way in, and then hand mixing the leaves and decayed material in my Trug. It's a wonderfully satisfying way to spend a spring afternoon. Some sunshine, cool breezes, digging and sifting, hand kneading and mixing, then toting a Trug full of magic to my gardens where I spread it about.

There are sticks and branches that got dumped in the row, so I need to do a lot of sifting, but it's surprisingly enjoyable work.

Here it is spread around a newly transplanted blueberry bush. Nobody wants to see pictures like this -- brown dirt for god's sake -- but I am loving it.

I have only a limited window now in spring to dig compost before weeds make their assault on the whole compost row and overtake it. This year I think I'll need two tarps to cover the length of the row, but I plan to get them out in a few days and cover up the rich, dark stuff.

After that, each time I need soil or compost, I'll have to roll back the tarp to get at it, but leaving the row exposed is just an invitation to the giant weeds to take over from the meadow side and lawn turf from the yard side. The row sits right at the edge of the unmowed meadow and I can see the most brazen weeds and the aggressive lawn grass already eyeing my compost.

Such good stuff, I won't share.


  1. I am so jealous. I think i am the only person in the world who loves the smell of compost.

    1. It sure doesn't photograph well, but you're right, good compost smells (and feels) wonderful.

  2. We used to make compost until we put in a shed. You have lots of compost Laurie, looks like it will last a while. Very cool that you unwittingly raised a family of snakes.

    1. I never really set out to create compost -- I just covered up the debris pile to keep weeds at bay. The magic happened in spite of that!