Saturday, November 06, 2004

What I did for the love of compost

...walk 3 miles along the C&O canal in street shoes and no walkman just to buy 2 dozen nightcrawlers for the compost bin. I walked from Georgetown University to Fletcher's Boat house, not thinking it was so far, because, like, I had passed it a bazillion times before on bike. It was far. But well worth it, and luckily, I was able to find a bus (and taxi) back home.
Why nightcrawlers? Compost. Those suckers eat that stuff we throw in the compost heap, and since my roommie has been cooking and eating a lot of farmer's market stuff, we got lots of organic waste. I had been trying to get redworms from my own yard but I haven't seen too many of them and I want my compost to be active. I know that nightcrawlers aren't the preferred worm but so far those are the worms I could a) get in DC & b) that they were selling.
I know it my fall under TMI, but I cannot describe the joy that leapt into my heart upon seeing one of my nightcrawlers pooping nutrient rich worm poop.
I have a vision. I see a rich garden of tomatoes growing in the back yard, feeding on the compost. I see thyme, peppermint, rosemary, basil (wait why am I growing basil, I don't use it...) pansies and lemongrass all growing and feasting on chemical free enhanced soil. *smile*


At 11/08/2004 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will tell you the story when I managed a compost heap for an entire Lutheran bible camp! It was trial and error at first, and initially looked like slop.

Anyhoo, don't forget to turn your compost heap monthly with a rake, shovel, or even better, pitchfork if you have one. You have to 'burp' your compost heap.

At 11/08/2004 1:10 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Well this is my second or third compost attempt. The earlier tries were in a square kitchen garbage pail. The problem was with rain water, the sludge at the bottom, and the difficulty of aerating the soil. This time I have a round garbage pail, with lid so turning the mix is a whole lot easier now. I have been turning the soil once a week for now. I gather once it gets really cold, I'll leave it to do it's own magic.

At 9/14/2005 5:45 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

You might be able to get the mule poo from the C&O Canal Park Service station in Georgetown on 37th St. After the last canal trip of the day, they scoop the mule poop into a wheelbarrow. I used to intern there, maybe if you ask they'd give it to you.

At 9/14/2005 5:45 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

oh, it's actually on Thomas Jefferson St.

At 5/16/2008 10:08 AM, Blogger whatpaper said...

Um, the one thing I never hear about in terms of urban composting is the critters. In short, do you find that rats are attracted to the fruits and vegetables you compost? Rats can chew through plastic. Are they more interested in other foods? Can you limit what you put into your compost to exclude things rats like?

At 5/16/2008 10:13 AM, Blogger Mari said...

All my compost has been in enclosed plastic bins. The only things I've had problems with are flies and slugs. I figure most urbanites are hurting for space so the compost won't be in some space gobbling open heap, but something enclosed, so that's probably why you don't hear about rats and other critters.

At 5/16/2008 10:19 AM, Blogger whatpaper said...

Oh, I see. I guess I wasn't clear. I hate to admit I know I/we have mega rats over here. Daytime rats the size of small cats. I'm surprised you put out any type of food waste.

At 6/05/2008 7:09 AM, Anonymous Barbara said...

Compost is FABulous and rodent- and odor-free call a local eco groups or hit the Internet to invest in a plastic (cover) compost bin, cut all ingredients to the size of a quarter, add "browns & greens" in equal proportions, stir it every couple of days (golf club, try a 4 iron via a garage sale!) and keep moist. Put something solid under the whole bottom...four squares of cement pavers from home center. Add worms - black gold!

At 6/05/2008 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it mystifies me that the rats don't chew through the plastic like they do with the garbage cans. Something tells me that you haven't seen your rats yet? They fit through any hole the size of a quarter or smaller. As long as you don't use food waste it should be okay, right?

At 6/05/2008 8:53 AM, Blogger Mari said...

Note- Please initial or ID your comments.
I have a speciality compost bin like this one ( that has been working well for many, many years. There are several kinds of bins out there, some not suitable urban life, some, like mine very suitable.
And seriously mine is a vegan composter, and maybe that may help explain the lack of rodents (besides the alley cats). Here's a list of what typically goes into my bin: coffee grounds, paper from the shredder, discarded plants, onion peels, tomato & carrot tops, avocado skins, spoiled and moldy fruit and veggies, mushroom bits, dryer lint, egg shells, tea bags, peels, and kitchen dirt. No bread, no rice, no oil, no meat of any kind, and no dairy.
What I have in the compost is totally uninteresting to rodents when they can easily fill their tummies on mulberries from the neighbor's tree, tossed chicken bones on the sidewalk, and the poison in the bait traps. Getting into my compost takes too much work.


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