The comforting reality is: you cannot fail at composting. Nature’s whole impulse is to break down organic substances and in her service are gazillions of bacteria, fungi and crawly critters. It will happen slowly without any intervention. For the purposes of a gardener, or just your average recycler, it is very useful to speed up the process and that is where this lovely book comes in to tell you how.
I have read all the books in our collection on compost and more besides (ok, I love the stuff) but, though they all individually have merits, all you need is Composting by Bob Flowerdew. With a name like that you’ve got to trust this guy. A small, handsome book, in this case less is more, and he says it all succinctly and clearly and gets it right.
Everyone can compost. Initially it takes some effort to get set up, but then it is painless. You can take your yard scraps and weeds, your kitchen scraps and garbage, that inedible zucchini you overlooked in the garden which grew to baseball-bat length, your leaves in the fall and, if you are lucky enough to find a source, manure from animals that eat grass, and turn it all into rich, ‘black gold’, which will enrich your soil and actually inoculate it against pests which like to attack what grows in your garden. It will make your vegetables and bushes and flowers grow beyond belief and give you a rich medium for your houseplants and seedlings. Add to that the fact that you keep all of those things out of the waste cycle. Everything wins! Besides it is magical to watch and participate in the life cycle of nature.
The best apologist for compost turns out to be Walt Whitman. His poem, “This Compost” is a beautiful statement about the efficiency with which the Earth will transform waste to fertility.
“Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient, It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.”