Heart and Soil

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I’ve always been a bit of a dirt-lover. My mum was great about it. She’d just let me get on with my play, then drop me into the bath. And later, when I stopped just splashing about in it, I started to learn how great a heaping pile of soil can be. One of my favourite memories is digging compost out of the bin to plant spring seedlings in. Maybe I’d never really stuck my hands into compost before, or maybe it was just a stellar batch we’d made, but I remember being surprised at how soft it felt and how rich and earthy it smelled. It was just perfect. And I said so, and my mum smiled.

So no surprise that I’ve been digging ever since. No surprise that there are always pots of things growing wherever I live, or that I always compost my kitchen waste (even when everyone else around me thinks I’m mad), or that earthworms make me ludicrously happy. And certainly no surprise that when the chance to become a Master Composter for Oxfordshire came up, I leapt at the opportunity. Master Composter? Sounds pretty flash, doesn’t it? Well it is! The County Council sends you off on intensive training course, and in exchange you give back 30 hours a year helping people all over the county to compost, compost, compost!

Well, now you know that I’m a massive geek. But, did you know that the earthworms you see in your compost bin are mostly different from the ones you dig out of the ground? Compost worms are brandling worms (or redworms), and they like light decomposing material, as opposed to the common earthworm which burrow deep into the ground. Or did you know that you can compost almost all of your paper and cardboard. In fact, it’s good for the compost to add ‘browns’, and cardboard can be a perfect way to do this. You know what’s especially good? Loo rolls and egg boxes! Ok, here’s another one. You know all those creepy crawlies that you hate in the house or in the garden? Slugs, snails, millipedes and centipedes… You know where they’re great? In the compost. They help things break down,  and they show that the compost bin is a thriving system. Aha! And now you’re interested in this stuff, too!

Earthworm eggs, not snail eggs. Protect these for all your worth!

It really is super cool. It’s the whole circle of life, and it happens right in your back garden, turning the food you don’t use into soil that you can use to make more food.

Cultivate (and OxGrow) now have two Master Composters, myself and Julian. If you have any compost queries, send them our way. Even if we don’t know the answers, we’ll do our best to find out. We’ll share good questions and answers with you through this blog (no names, of course). We’re also always happy to deal out composting tips from the VegVan which isn’t just a Mobile Shop, it’s a Mobile Classroom too – so come and do your veg shopping on the Van, and find out what to do with any waste!

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