Friday, April 20, 2007

Compost and worms et al

When we get back from England, I’m planning on working more on the compost bin in our garden. I’d like to increase the stock of worms, and begin selling them – and the compost they produce.
We’ve made compost for years, and my mother (who lived with us) and I used to battle about what could and couldn’t go in it. She didn’t think orange or lemon peel should be included, and up to a point she’s right. But the experts on composting say that some citrus peelings are okay. And she wouldn’t put potatoes or their peelings back into the compost. Again she was only partly right.
To my way of thinking, if you can put horse manure into a compost, a few potato peelings won’t go amiss. And anyway, you can often wind up with sweet-tasting potatoes later in the year, if you don’t happen to uproot them.
I’d always focused on the worms in the compost as being the great workers, but there is an army of other little creatures that get going on the leftovers you put in there. Many of them are too small to see, and often they also end up as part of the worm’s diet.
Some people think you get flies around a compost. Only if you don’t keep the rotting food you leave in there uncovered. Even if it is uncovered, I don’t find that flies are much of a nuisance. They’re more of a pest inside the house, but these days even inside I let them go free if I can. A friend of ours, years ago, complained when I used to swat flies on the windows with rolled-up newspaper, and I’ve never done it since! Plus, it seems to me that flies have a purpose in life, the same as many other insects that we’re not particularly fond of, even if it’s only to wind up as spider fodder.

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