Compost Happens

Yes, I recycle. Even as far back as my lonely childhood in the backwoods workhouse for parentless children I recycled. The instinct was there in my genetic makeup since I certainly wasn’t encouraged to by anyone around me. This was way back in the last millennium when only hippies did so and our president could say without political consequences that “A tree is a tree. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.”

There were no recycling centers beyond the local store (five miles away) who would redeem glass soda bottles for a dime. This did not count for much with me since I had neither access to sodas nor the store. But I would do things like make scrolls out of the large paper bags the cow feed came in and reuse old nails from the fallen down fences to use in my tree forts.

I still recycle aggressively, and I still find unique ways to reuse. I’m not just talking about aluminum cans and office paper. I am a remodeling contractor, so in a sense. I’m recycling houses. All the scrap comes home with me. Anything reusable, like fixtures, go to Habitat for humanity. Scrap wood gets made into toys, or firewood, depending on quality. Rotten, non-burnable wood goes in the composters or becomes them.

Compost is one of the biggest productions that happens in my back yard. Because of the Texas heat, we chose to live in a house surrounded by large trees to help with cooling. As a result, we have an inordinate amount of leaves to deal with. This requires an equivalent amount of composting. All my neighbors just stuff them in plastic bags to go to the land fill, a practice of almost criminal waste.

After many experiments I have finally developed a simple way to handle my scrap lumber and composting at the same time. Using 2x material 4-5 feet long, I stack them alternately to form a sort of log cabin box. I can fill the interior with compostable material and build it as high as I need to. The gaps between the boards leaves plenty of room for aeration. Regular watering speeds up decomposition. When it is time to turn the compost, all I need to do is use the same wood and build a new one, transferring the top of the enclosure and the compost to the bottom of the new pile. As a result, my yard is much neater and the soil vastly improved without the need to import fertilizers.

For me, every day is earth day. How about you?