Doing the decomposition dance
How the heck does composting fit in with Creation Care? Well, in lots of ways, when you stop to think about it. When you help yard and uncooked kitchen wastes decompose:
- You’re creating “black gold,” which will add nutrients to the soil and encourage earthworms and other beneficial little critters to grow and prosper.
- You’re reducing the amount of material you send to the landfill. (Ever visit the one in Buncombe County? It’s huge, and ever growing.)
- You’re creatively reusing materials like leaves and plant trimmings.
- You’re improving the soil’s fertility and its ability to absorb and hold moisture.
- You’ll cut down on and perhaps eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers, regarded by organic gardeners as temporary fixes.
Yes, we compost advocates get tickled when we see teabags and coffee grounds and grapefruit hulls and grass clippings and leaves all heaped up, doing the decomposition dance. We know that we’re just encouraging and speeding the natural (God-given) process of decomposition, and reaping richer, easier-to-till soil as a result.
If There’s Only One Thing You Can Do
One small way of responding to the challenge in our own backyards is by composting — by piling up, moistening, and mixing appropriate yard and kitchen wastes so that they decompose and create “black gold.”
Take Small Steps
There are many roads to composting success. One route is to start with a big pile, roughly 4 feet high, wide and deep, containing a 50-50 mix of materials high in carbon (e.g., brown leaves) and high in nitrogen (say, grass clippings and uncooked kitchen wastes). Don’t put anything poisonous in the pile. Chop the materials into smaller bits to speed decomposition. Keep the pile moist as a wrung-out sponge. After two weeks, turn it top to bottom. After that, keep it moist, and turn it every week or so. In a month or two, you’ll get finished compost.
You’ll find plenty of how-to resources in the public library and on line, in books, and in handouts from the Cooperative Extension Service. Happy composting!
Until Mark Burnham’s Creation-Care sermon April 21, I had glossed over the image of God as a gardener. But there it is in Genesis 2:8-9, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden… Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” The writer of Genesis didn’t detail God’s gardening methods, but surely they include caring for the soil, to make it fertile and productive. A Divine example, even a challenge, perhaps?
For inspiration, read Psalm 65: “…the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” Then reflect on how perfectly sustainable God created our world: a simple act of composting our food and yard wastes turns them back into the nutrients that they received from the soil. Using chemical fertilizers instead of allowing nature to replenish itself as God intended, harms the earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, and has far reaching effects on our world. Production of chemical fertilizers uses petroleum products and creates air, water and ground pollution that harms God’s creatures- including humans.