Today was the first time I'd turned my compost pile since sometime back in 2007. I just assumed there had not been much activity in there, what with the winter freezes and all.
But apparently my earthworms couldn't wait to get started. With the first shovelful I uncovered a swarming mess of them, hard at work turning all that garden debris and grass clippings and chopped leaves into something I can dress my vegetable beds with.
Turning the pile injects oxygen, which stokes the bacteria in there to get them working faster. Also, you don't want your compost pile to turn anaerobic, which invites a whole other breed of micro-organisms that will make the pile smell like garbage.
My pile is standard size: about three feet in each direction. It takes me about 45 minutes to move the whole thing into an adjoining bin, where it can finish the decomposition process. Not in time for my spring plantings, but I'm guessing this will be fine fodder for the tomato plants.
Turning compost is a contemplative act. Ronald Reagan retreated to California to chop wood. George Bush likes to clear brush on his Texas ranch. Me, I just put on my windbreaker and work up a little sweat turning my compost. For any of you organic food lovers, this is where it starts: making dead stuff into life-giving soil
At times like these, when it's just me, the earthworms and the occasional fire truck screaming past our urban plot, I try to think pleasant thoughts. Sometimes I am bothered by a rumination on the whole sorry story of human venality and destructiveness. I keep shoveling. Composting brings me a little closer to planet earth. It's one thing I know I can do and not go wrong.