a day with compost

Yesterday I dug up the compost that was ready and chucked it on the garden. The rest, for example semi decomposed sticks and phone books, I threw onto the other side of the compost heap.

Some things I discover are not biodegradable, such as buttons, an odd sock and clothes labels. I throw these into the rubbish bin.

Now one side is empty with plenty of room for the end of spring prunings.

It has been raining a lot lately, which means that the newly spread compost won't dry out before the worms and other friends get a chance to burrow down to a depth where it is cooler.

Looking at compost is an amazing and enthralling experience. From time to time I see worms. It's like finding gold. I look closely and see other bugs: slaters, shiny black beetles, millipedes, centipedes and others.

I find a dazed and dirty cicada and I watch it cleaning itself with its front legs.

Then I blink and suddenly I perceive another dimension. Teeny tiny white bugs, little black specks, a mini universe teeming with activity.

I imagine another dimension, with bugs so small you'd need a microscope to see them. Then I imagine the nano-sized inhabitants of the compost heap, that even a powerful microscope wouldn't reveal.


  1. It is fascinating emptying your compost heap. I am always amazed at how all the crap I shove into it, turns into such delicious, good for the garden, stuff. I did not even think about composting my old phone book, what a good idea. I am always finding wine corks, I do not know what that says about my drinking habits, (by the way, they do not compost).

  2. Wow, Catmint. If people were not fans of composting before, they will be after reading this great post! You can hardly say enough about how great it is for the garden.

  3. My favorite thing to find is a bin of fine compost with a few banana stickers thrown in.

  4. So interesting Sue. I've been meaning to take some pictures of my worms, too.
    I finally posted Honest Scrap - come see when you get a chance :-)

  5. Compost heaps are like a mini metropolis - endlessly fascinating unless a rat runs out. We have has Slow worms, mice and Bumble Bees nesting in ours. I can confirm that Denim trousers can last for over 6 years without rotting and have to be removed eventually!

  6. Hi Catmint~~ Compost is pretty amazing stuff, all right. The most interesting thing I saw in my bin was a garter snake. Scared the crap out of me.

  7. I enjoyed this journey through your compost heap. What a great idea for a post, I'm always so interested to see what happens in a compost pile, and who lives in it.

    I recently had an ironic compost-pile experience. At a mushroom hunt last year, mushroom refreshments were served in biodegradable disposable cups. Yes, and not only are they still in fine shape, but you can clearly read the green "compostable" each cup was labeled with.

  8. Hi Catmint, I loved seeing what was found in that fabulous compost. The sock must not be made of cotton, or the label. Finding goodies in the bins is always fascinating. Another thing that does not decompose, although it might if given enough time is a hammer and the gasket from the canister that we keep the kitchen scraps in on the counter until they go outside. The last one was in the bin for over a year, we were joyous to find it again. :-)

  9. The compost is a cool world! I let my chickens go wild in it and it's amazing what they like/dislike. I need to be more adventurous and try adding other things!

  10. Deborah, I find wine corks too. I would have thought they are biodegradable but they must be treated with something ... a bit scary

    Easy and Grace, your comments reminded me of the two occasions (in nearly 30 years) when I was blissfully engrossed in compost activities, and disturbed a wasp's nest. The first time I ran and was chased but fortunately only stung twice. The second time I screamed and was stung once. Now I try to look at the sides to see if any wasps are flying in or out, which is a sign of a nest. if it happens again i will try to stay still and quiet not to enrage them further.

    Easy, denim trousers should be biodegradable. I suspect the heap was too dry.

    Pomona, I have had the same experience with so called biodegradable packaging. It's called greenwashing.

    Frances, a reminder that sometimes things get in the compost by mistake and then we are pleased that they are not biodegradable!

    Don't we gardeners get excited about compost? It's so important, so enthralling ... thanks for sharing.

    Cheers, catmint

  11. Makes me miss my chickens...they always loved compost day!

  12. Isn’t composting wonderful? I often find non biodegradables in my heap, like knives ad garden tools. But never socks :)


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