Abundant Harvests - garden info

Moving the compost

Q: What is hot and juicy and black and very, very stinky?

A: My anaerobic compost trial.

In the mid 1990’s when we lived in Orange County, composters were hard to come by. I read somewhere that you could compost in a black plastic trash bag. The method used kitchen scraps exclusively and declared it would all break down. Too easy, it seemed, so I gave it a try.

I had never composted before so I had no idea what to expect. I’d hold my breath and open the bag quickly to slide in the day’s additions. In the heat of OC’s late summer, the mess broke down to slurry quite rapidly. And it stunk to high heaven.

Meanwhile, employment and family changes found us moving to L.A. My husband made several U-haul trips back to the OC house for various things that didn’t fit on the main moving truck. Including – you guessed it – the now ominous, sloshing, liquid-filled Black Bag.

In the interim, my mother-in-law had acquired a “proper” L.A. Department of Sanitation plastic composter. The OC Black Bag eventually proved to be an exceptional source of compost starter. But as my husband dumped The Bag onto the new materials in the new composter, the bag slipped, spilling plenty of the reeking goo all down his pant legs and into his shoes.

Anaerobic: without oxygen. Very wet, very stinky (undesirable)

Aerobic: oxygenated, aerated, smells clean (desirable)

Next section: “Compost: Smooth or Chunky”

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