Slain in the spirit

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?



About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Keep hope alive, Unexplained phenomena and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Slain in the spirit

  1. Composting leaves is so easy I don’t understand why people bag them and send all that great soil amendment away. It has all the advantage of composting without the issues of composting kitchen scraps (odor, pests like mice or raccoons being attracted to the yard by the compost, fruit flies in the kitchen because the compost doesn’t get taken out frequently enough…).

    I have three wire bins in the backyard that I pile full of leaves in the fall. Soon I will spread the composting leaves from last year onto the gardens as a mulch/soil amendment/winter protection for my plants. Leaves that fall in the perennial borders? I leave them there. They’re usually broken down by the time the snow melts in the spring. Leaves on the grass? Mow with my mulching mower and leave in place. Bonus points for not having to rake!

    So where do I get the leaves for my compost bins? My neighbors who bag their leaves and put them out at the curb. Yes, I am a thief. A leaf thief. And then I laugh when those neighbors want to know my secret for such a lush garden!

    • plantkiller says:

      Diana, this is hilarious — I love it! A leaf thief! Do you wait until it’s dark or take them all brazen, in the light?
      A few years ago, when we first moved into this house, my mom bagged about 80 bags of leaves and such and put them out as yard waste. I didn’t totally understand her Herculean efforts, as we have a huge yard and I would just dump them in one of my (many) unused corners, haha! That’s what I did last year, when left to my own devices. But now that pile got grown over with the the still-unidentified poison “crap,” so I am going to start a new fresh pile, further away, and put my leaves and yard waste there. My husband’s mower also mulches so those ones will stay on the “grass.” (Very loose term.) I hadn’t thought about stealing the neighbors’ leaves, but now maybe I will! I will certainly think of you when I drive by bags of yard waste set out at the curb. 🙂
      So you don’t use kitchen scraps? I had been thinking of throwing them on the new pile.
      Do you think lots of critters will come? The pile is closer to my neighbor’s yard than mine, so I don’t want to piss her off!

  2. I have been composting kitchen scraps but I have a bin with a lid inside our fence where the dogs can deter scavengers. Whether you get anything depends on where you live and what’s around. After the skunk incident I think I’m going to stop composting kitchen scraps for a while at least.

    I am a brazen leaf thief. I walk down the street with my little garden cart collecting the bags of leaves for all to see. It’s amazing what people will let you do (without any comments!) if you act confident enough.

  3. plantkiller says:

    I love picturing you collecting leaves with your little wagon!
    It’s true, walk tall and no one will question you.
    And yes, the skunk incident. I don’t blame you. I’m gonna keep a lid on the kitchen stuff!

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