Thursday, April 26, 2007

Debating Compost

The owner of the blog site, Linkandblogchallenge, posted a piece about composting a couple of days ago. In it she writes:
“Never add cooked foods in a compost pile! They lack the enzymes and other critical elements needed and you will attract many unwanted pests and insects! If odours similar to garbage develops, it's a sign that you failed to maintain the compost pile properly or you did not have a good mix of green and brown materials.”
With all due respect to Tammara and her sources, I have to disagree. Composts will take virtually anything. Cooked foods may lack some enzymes (although it’s not something I’ve heard about before) but they still decompose in the pile, and add to the stock of stuff that makes up worm food. Certainly the worms in our compost have never turned up their noses (such as they have) at our cooked food. In fact some of them have hinted that cooked food is easier to digest. I’m mindful that worms aren’t the best communicators on earth, but I think I’ve understood them correctly!
We toss household dust into the mix, floor sweepings, the lint out of the clothes dryer. So far we haven’t got to the point of throwing a whole dead sheep into our compost, but if we did, we wouldn’t be the first person to do so!

UPDATE, 3.3.18
This post came up as one of the popular posts on my blog today, and I looked it up again. I still mostly agree with what I've said above, but in the last while we've had a bit of invasion: one rat and probably some of his mates. The cheekiest rat made itself at home in the pantry, right up on the top shelf where he wasn't obvious. It was only because he didn't clean up his poo after him that we realised he was there. When we surprised him while cleaning out the pantry, he leapt down the height of the five shelves and whizzed out to the laundry, where his poo began appearing subsequently. Another lot of poo appeared under the stove, and another lot in the corner cupboard where we keep the pots. More under the sink, and more in the hot water cupboard. And then there was the something that was making a knocking noise behind the fridge! We discovered today that once we'd stopped his exits up completely, he'd simply eaten through the gib board and escaped that way!
Before that we tried traps. The vermin weren't interested. We tried more super-duper traps (if you caught your finger in one of these, that would require surgery, I'd suspect). We tried a super-super-duper trap which all the pests totally ignored. We finally began putting down blocks that poison the creatures over a few days, and this has completely put them off coming near the place. Or else it's killed them off: we found one dead rat outside on the path to the front door one evening.
It's definite that they were eating some of the uncomposted food from the compost heaps, though I try to bury this stuff under leaves and vegetation. But they were getting inside through vents that were secure when we first came to the house nearly forty years ago, and were broken either by one of our boys or one of our grandchildren at some point. Whoever it was - and I can't remember now - went round and pushed them all inwards so that the vents were completely open. We've just fixed these up today: two or three of the vents were still intact, just not in place. A couple were gone completely, and one had only half itself left. There is now no entrance through these into the house!
Up until a year or so ago we'd always had a cat around the house; at one point two of them. This kept vermin well and truly at bay. I remember a mouse getting into our hallway one evening: the dog, the cat and I were all trying to catch it. Interestingly enough I was the one who did: simply caught it in my hand in a move that surprised me as much as the mouse. The dog is good at barking at them; he hasn't a clue about how to catch them.
We may have to get a cat again!


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