Monday, March 15, 2010

Creating With Decomposers: Fun With Composting

When I first started mixing and chopping the browns and greens in the compost bin of our community garden, I had no idea it would become a ritual in which I bonded with mother nature and synchronized with the universe in one of many creation processes varying in the creation spectrum from the cosmic, to the dynamic/inspirational to the mundane. Some people write songs, come choreograph dance moves, some create lesson plans for students, some create financial portfolios, some design a treatment plan for sick patients, some pen articles and memoirs, while still others capture images through their camera lens. Some engage in a variation of all or some of these arts or none of these. Ultimately, however, we all create in one way or another. Mother nature herself proudly displays her effortless creations whether they are rosy sunsets or star blanketed skies, snow covered mountains or a burst of colorful foliage from the tree leaves in autumn. I, on the other hand, have been practicing the art of creating compost.

Mother nature creates compost on her own and by recreating mother nature's natural conditions of the decomposition of nitrogen and carbon materials, we can expedite the composting process by years. Having grown up with four brothers, handling bugs and worms or chopping up decomposed and sometimes rotting food is no problem for me. In fact, I've grown to have a great respect for the slimy slugs, worms, mites, etc that crawl through the compost breaking down the food scraps and helping to distribute the nutrients in the soil. It never ceases to amaze me how the worms just naturally occur from the natural process of the decaying and mixing of nitrogen, protein and carbon materials. If you were to visit our garden, you might often find me with my head halfway down the compost bin snapping away with my camera as if I were snapping family photos of my children (if I had any). While I mix the compost almost daily, I'm still learning about composting and still consider myself a student. Just today I attended a workshop conference at Brooklyn Botanic Garden where I sat in on a beginners composting class.

I've learned a great deal about composting though I feel reinforcement is always good and there are so many different types of bins one could have, so it's always good to see what is working for some people and what's not working. I plan to take the Master Composter Workshop and become a master composter. If you're not a composter yet, I encourage you to look try it. Not only will it benefit the environment, but it will help you in your relationship with nature and help illustrate how we're all interconnected. You'll also come to discover an appreciation for the scent and textures of certain foods or materials dumped into the bin. I personally love the pungent odor of the coffee grinds and delight in crushing the compacted round circles from the expresso machine through my fingers. The onion odor may smell more like a skunk to some, and Pepe la Pew never had much luck with the ladies, but my love affair with composting is burgeoning and gives me great satisfaction. The scent derived from the mixing of onions, garlic and coffee grinds in particular gives my nose and sense of smell great pleasure.

Below are some web sites on composting for your reference: