Reading a very helpful and interesting book called “New England Gardener’s Resource” and stumbled across this gem today. (Ah, the Sunday of a three-day weekend… you make time for such deep philosophical considerations…)
In a section on yard waste, mother-daughter authors Jacqueline Heriteau and Holly Hunter Stonehill are waxing poetic about the power of shredded leaves to transform into organism-nurturing matter and fortify plants and trees when they suddenly bust out with this arresting query:
“But let me interrupt this vision to ask you a question: have you ever stopped to consider that no matter what condition the soil is in, leaf compost will help make loose soil retain moisture and compacted soil drain better?”
Uh, no. I had not, actually. But the question — and its accompanying exaltation of rotting leaves — was enough to get me thinking about this oft-overlooked but critical topic. (I have such a weakness for bizarre passions. It’s not the thing itself, it’s the enthusiasm of the advocate and truly enchanting randomness of the oddities that intrigue us.)
The authors admit they get all excited over shedding leaves, which most of us see as an annoying, back-aching chore falling from the sky, because the leaves mean it’s “compost time!” (Exclamation point not mine.)
I am not organized — or ambitious — enough to bag up my leaves and set them out as yard waste. (And there are heaps that fall in my yard every fall. Mountains.) So… you see where this is going… I keep them anyway. I have always been leery of the Compost Movement, as it seems to inspire a kind of religious fervor in some gardeners. (It reminds me of the crazy people I left behind in my hometown, Seattle.) Like Compost is part of some higher moral Green order.
Lest I appear totally nuts, check out this article by nutritional scientist Dr. Phil Domenico, “Finding God in the Compost Pile,” in which he argues: “Compost is not just the key to sustainable agriculture, but also God’s will. It is the renewal of things, and the only tangible form of reincarnation. It is life’s resolve and death’s acceptance. What transpires in a compost pile is as awesome as in any religion, and its miracles are accessible. The God in the compost pile is worth dirtying one’s fingernails for.”
See? They’re OUT THERE.
But anyway… Now even I am pondering that disorganized dump at the bottom of my yard and thinking… maybe it could be useful. (At least the part that’s not grown-over with [potential] Poison Ivy.) I am dreaming of making some new beds this fall for planting next spring. I am starting to think about soil and optimum conditions and Ph balances and mulching and such. Psyching myself up to take it to the next level. (As if I had mastered anything at any level!)
I feel filled with the Spirit… is this what it feels like when Composting comes for you?
Can I get an Amen?