Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life List Goal #62 - To Grow My Own Vegetables (...and then some thoughts about compost)

I (we*) have eggplant seedlings!

I (we) have seedlings coming out of my ears these days, which is just so tremendous. It just feels so wonderful to finally be able to grow something, that now I feel like I could cure cancer. Single-handedly. With my green thumb.

If I can grow vegetables, thereby curing cancer, then why is this composting thing so damn difficult?!

The plan for my (our) garden is to be as organic as possible, using only natural pesticides and fertilizers whenever possible. Not only should this keep my and The Boyfriend's™ gardening costs down, but would mostly ensure that we won't be poisoned by our own vegetables.

So yeah, composting. Who knew something as seemingly simple as a compost pile could be so diverse and complicated?

You have your in-house versions, one of which relies on fermentation rather than decomposition. Then you have the other more traditional versions, that rely on decomposition.

You have your outdoor methods - and this is where it gets tricky. Do you want a bin or to let it free stand? Do you want to include kitchen waste or just garden waste? And, if you do include kitchen waste, is it strictly vegetable and fruit scraps or will you include animal-sourced scraps as well?

It appears composting involves a bit of science and is not as simple as one might think:

- Not enough aerating, your compost pile might get mold.
- Not the right temperature (did you know there's such a thing as a composting thermometer? Yeah, neither did I), and your compost pile can develop unhelpful fungi, stop fermenting/decomposing, or experience a host of other heretofore unknown [by me] compost-related issues.
- Apparently, slugs, maggots and their ilk are a good thing to have in your compost pile.
- But not unpleasant odors.

And really? Decomposition isn't supposed to smell like, well, rotting stuff?

The plaguing question for me is how do you know when the pile is ready to use? How you know when your rotting pile of refuse is done decomposing enough to dump into your vegetable garden? Jesus wept** -- when do you stop composting?

...Or do you ever really stop? Is it the compost pile that never ends?

*The Boyfriend™ has helped-ish. So I feel morally obligated to include him, albeit marginally.
**I have been dying to use that phrase for, like, forever.

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