Saturday, May 5, 2007

To Compost...or Not to Compost?

I was composting before composting was cool. For years, my composter sat next to the now huge yew in my backyard collecting kitchen scraps, grass clippings, fall leaves, and my failed gardening experiments. While it never produced copious amounts of compost, it produced enough that I could dig in generous amounts around plants that needed a little extra attention. From beginning to end, the process was super easy.

But last year I had every intention of getting rid of my composter. In late fall, I used up ever last bit of compost available and then I stopped feeding the black beast. I planned to pull it out of the ground this spring and chuck it in the trash.

You see, my composter was sitting on some prime garden real estate. When I was just getting started, it didn't matter much because I had lots of other places to cultivate. But as the garden started filling out and I started looking for new places to transform, that composter just started screaming out at me. Get rid of me! Wouldn't a tree look great here? This would make a perfect woodland garden spot!

I decided the composter had to go. And there really wasn't any reason to feel bad about getting rid of it. The City of Toronto picks up kitchen scraps every week as part of its green bin program. And yard waste is collected every two weeks in spring and fall, and every week in summer. All my kitchen and garden waste was going to be composted anyway!

Today was the day I planned to say so long to my composter. But when it came time to do it, I couldn't follow through.
My composter has been nourishing my garden for nearly a decade. Just chucking it would be no way to treat a friend. The composter also offers a rare opportunity to personally divert waste from the big garbage machine. Sure the City will turn my scraps into compost -- but they will have to load them onto noisy trucks that suck up gas and spew out pollution as they cart my waste miles and miles away to be reborn as "black gold." Why not just toss those scraps and clippings in the backyard instead?

In an age when the threat of global warming and its catastrophic consequences has been accepted by thousands of scientists around the world (just check out the findings of the last three reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), it would seem to me that composting is a good idea and quite possibly a moral obligation.

In the end, I did manage to get back some prime garden real estate. I relocated the composter! Instead of being in front of the yew, it's behind the yew -- out of sight in an area that would never get used anyway. Now I've got a fertile patch of ground all ready to accept a new addition to the garden. What that will be remains to be seen but I'll keep you posted.

Get rid of my composter? What was I thinking.

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