A Compost’d Tale

Earth Machine

Like many folks, we gladly spend the $4 in gasoline to get our $3.50 in deposit refunds as we recycle cans and bottles, and we also brave -40 C weather, howling winds and snow to drag paper and cardboard to the outside recycle centres. I won’t say that we ‘hug trees’ as such, but we do like to at least look at them. It will come as no surprise at all then that when our friends Greg and Cate offered, for what I considered to be an excellent price (free) a deluxe, black plastic ‘Earth Machine’ compost bin, we leapt at the chance to try and make environmentally friendly dirt for our gardens.

I have to say that we doted on that bin – feeding it only the best hand picked vegetable scraps that money can buy. And when I say ‘best’ – I mean imported from far away places like Mexico and California. Of course one could argue that we really didn’t have a lot of choice. Lets face it, for 10 months out of the year there aren’t really any locally grown vegetables in Calgary, as we are locked in sub-zero weather ! At any rate, I suspect our ‘Earth Machine’ was better cared for than most people’s pets – due to the very dry climate here, I had to water the contents of the compost bin to keep it from drying out and therefore not digesting, and we fed it nutrients specially designed for composters to both speed up the process and also to ensure a well balanced, plant friendly resultant product. The contents were stirred weekly using a special tool to ensure an even mixture, and when its digestion was upset and the neighbours complained about the odour, we lovingly shredded newspaper in my cross-cut shredder, and thoroughly mixed it in to stabilise its delicate processes. In short, I have no doubt at all that it was a very happy, and contented composter. After many weeks of work, tender care and much, much eating of vegetables, we were verging on having what I would have to very modestly call ‘primo’ compost, and we were starting to discuss what part of the garden would be blessed with our cubic foot of natural goodness, and also possibly of organising tours so that friends and neighbours could come and stare at it and share our joy – but then a very unfortunate thing happened.

Our chimney needed repair, and when a crew of contractors dutifully showed up to get it started, we left them to it and went about our business elsewhere. At the end of the second day of renovations, I noticed that the beloved compost bin had had to be moved so they could do some of the work. No problem I thought to myself, and then I started to look around for where they had saved the contents of the ‘Earth Machine’ which we had so lovingly created. Alas, there was no little pile of deep, dark organic happiness to be seen anywhere ! It was with a sense of impending doom that I asked the owner of the stone mason company what he had done with the compost – ‘taken to the dump’ he replied quite cheerfully, together with all the other rubble from the work they were doing. You can well imagine my slack jawed look of utter dismay ! The only consolation I can draw, is that buried somewhere in the City of Calgary dump, is a small pocket of rich organic goodness which hopefully will have a positive impact amidst all of the other nasty stuff that goes into there !

Meanwhile – we have started to eat more Mexican vegetables ………

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