Compost fascinates me. It’s decomposition magic: pile up veggie kitchen scraps, grass clippings, fall leaves, dead houseplants, small tree branches, or shredded newspapers on the ground, add water from time to time, and wait a few months. Plant materials + time + micro-organisms, insects, & worms = rich, black humus, perfect for enriching the soil. I even enjoy turning the mouldering pile, a study in impermanence and reclaimation.
At this time of year, the grass in my yard still grows merrily, and the water oaks begin to shed their leaves. Running the lawnmower across the yard yields a perfect ratio of chopped green & brown plant matter, reduced to an ideal compostable texture. It’s nice to think about next summer’s garden while mowing on a (slightly cooler) fall day, knowing that today’s labor will pay off in fat tomatoes & cucumbers come May.
Starting a compost heap is easy: tuck it into an unused corner of the yard. Or try a compost bin, though buying a big plastic non-biodegradable bin runs counter to the whole point of composting.
The compost pile is also a ready source of free mulch: partially rotted leafy compost (aka leaf mould) is great for weed control, moisture retention, and groundcover–and anything that keeps people from buying cypress mulch is a good thing. (Check out what the Louisiana Sierra Club says about cypress mulch. Yes, whole cypress trees are cut & shredded into mulch. No, it doesn’t discourage termites. No, nothing prevents cypress-swamp owners in Louisiana from clear-cutting just to make mulch. )