Making your own compost from
garden and household waste is one of the best things any gardener
can do. It's easy and costs very little in time or effort.
What can I compost?
If it can rot it will compost, but some items
are best avoided. Some things, like grass mowings and soft young
weeds, rot quickly. They work as 'activators' or 'hotter rotters',
getting the composting started, but on their own will decay to a
Older and tougher plant material is slower
to rot but gives body to the finished compost - and usually makes
up the bulk of a compost heap.
Woody items decay very slowly; they are
best chopped or shredded first, where appropriate. For best results,
use a mixture of types of ingredient. The right balance is something
you learn by experience.
When is it ready?
Compost can be made in six to eight weeks,
or it can take a year or more. In general, the more effort you put
in, the quicker you will get compost. When the ingredients you have
put in your container have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling
material, the composting process is complete. It is then best left
for a month or two to 'mature' before it is used. Don't worry if
you compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky
or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is
What does composting and writing have in
common? Anyone who really loves to write knows that you have to
have a lot of writing miles under your belt if you want to write
a novel. Bryce Courtney wrote that one should 'never attempt to
write a book until you've written one hundred long letters to ten
good friends.' Julia Cameron, who wrote 'The Artist's Way', talks
about morning pages. If you have written one hundred letters to
ten good friends and kept morning pages for one year this represents
a powerful lot of writing compost.
In the world of gardening hot rotters include
things like young weeds, grass cuttings, chicken manure, horse manure.
In the world of writing there is no better hot rotter than letter
writing. When I first began to keep journals I always addressed
my entries to a close friend. This seemed to help the words to flow.
The dedicated gardener knows that they have
to provide a balanced diet for their compost heap. Most compostors
add things like fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds,
old flowers, bedding plants, old straw & hay, vegetable plant remains,
strawy manures, young hedge clippings, soft prunings, perennial
weeds, gerbil, guinea pig & rabbit bedding.
For the writer morning pages represent just
one of the ingredients that add to a balanced diet. In primary schools
most students have a writing work book. This has the same effect
if it is used often enough.
As a writer all you need to understand is
that, to become an even better writer and to be rewarded with rich
blooms, you need to take as much care with your compost bin as the
gardeners at the Botanical Gardens.
I love to make special word compost bins
with students. These are inexpensive notebooks covered with images
of all the sorts of things that you need to feed your knowledge
of words and your ability to write.
Grab some glossy magazines and have a think
about what you will put on your notebook. Ask yourself what you
will use to compost words. Perhaps you will just cut out lots of
words and make it look like a magnetic poetry board. It really is
up to you.
The main thing is that once you have the
notebook you add something new to it every day. Trust me! If you
feed your writing compost bin your compost will be ready in no time
at all. You will find any writing task becomes so much easier to
complete. Any dread of writing will be gone for ever.
Return to Spotty
Dog Sundaes for more writing activities