Enchantments June 25, 2020 Number 13 – Le Compost

It has come to this. You may think I’m referring to this portrait of a mangled papaya and that likely would be enough.

But there’s more.

Little did I know when I was assigned to “read the shelves” (i.e. put books in order) in library school that life would spin off into a never-ending obsession that even “an internet” could not slow.

To my point, such revelatory journeys have allowed for the discovery of mind-bending gems that now reside in the experimental yard farmer library. It’s curation is how I keep things barely going on my 1 acre. Let it Rot by Stu Campbell is a case in point.

Now you are beginning to get the picture or better yet the frame.

The still timely 1975 volume is my go-to when my compost is out of sorts. Sadly after I contracted friend/carpenter who lives up the street to build a double-bin arrangement (no pressure treated lumber allowed), I remembered that I knew nothing about mixing mulchly ingredients. Still I pulled myself up straight and reminded Dalton of other enthusiastic endeavors. He smiled that I-like-your-ideas sort of smile.

And that is when I realized my plight was so much deeper than patting down my plants with vitamins. You may scoff, but at its best, compost is an art form, definitely akin to cooking and if you pay attention….. the process is a means to a spiritually charged exchange.

It’s true that this enlightenment might require whistling the farmer in the dell. Like the groundhog, rabbit or was it a bird who in haste takes the imported fruit? Still there is never a moment that the composter with cute shovel in hand doesn’t ephiany-ize that we are all one. And I think recent history has shown us certainty of message that would more useful to comprehend sooner than later.

Back to the particulars of le compost, living microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) are too small for us to see, but they are the makers. Thank the living lord they are with us. What would happen to the kazillion tons of grass clippings, food waste, leaves etc. without the tiny minions’ ambitions to digest it all and give us nutrients to grow plants? Not a pretty sight.

In short, the methodology takes a minute and requires certain knowledge. Dalton and I curiously have our own categories while playing outside in the yard. We never discussed who did what, but the way long-term marriage works; I’m sure our kingdom departments had multiple fits and starts. By the time I had the golden mulch idea, know-it-all behaviors gave way to the more seasoned shovel operator.

That is when I realized that there was a recipe to the chaos of being a good steward. Let It Rot has the answer! The compost bin needs 4 things:
Carbon – dry, tough plants, straw, leaves etc.
Nitrogen – manure, grass, green vegetation
Oxygen – the instance when a cute shovel is handy
Moisture – bin(s) placed next to a water source.
*Alert – no meat in the mix because it can harbor pathogens. Enough of that.

I may have over simplified or perhaps complicated things depending on your human garden-o-meter but for my non-scientific money, this art has provided peaceful means to integrate your physical self into the natural flow while maintaining a petite upper body workout. The end of the line product is an enchanted earthy fragrance, rich in crumble-ability. Potted plants and gardens love this concoction. So to brew or not to brew your own plant-manna from heaven is the question.


Ever the student, I’m still working on the key component of table scrap burial. So preferable to tossing leftovers into the landfill to congregate with diapers, couches, pianos and plastic bags. The almost daily ritual of mixing leftovers into the mulch is as satisfying as the starring role in “creation sings”.

And now that you have a visual and the rules of the road, we will part with one caveat: never leave a decomposing fruit on top of your pile like a birthday candle. An unknown yard guest(s) will show up to the nighttime party and all will not be served. Unless your neighbor has a bin too. If not, Let it Rot can be purchased in multiples in which case you can store in your chest of drawers for later gifting (See Enchantment Number 12).