Book Report: Let It Rot by Stu Campbell (1975, 1990)

Book coverI bought this book some time ago when I first got into gardening, since I’d heard that composting was all the rage, and I wanted to learn more about it. I’ve been doing some “composting in place” — basically you take some organic material, toss it in your garden, and throw some dirt on it — but I got some extra material from trimming back some bushes and the bucket in which we kept our kitchen scraps was getting full. So it was time to read this book.

It covers a variety of information not only about the history of composting, but also some different strategies, enclosures, basic scientific principles of it, and overall, how neat composting is.

But I won’t be doing it seriously.

Because, brothers, composting is work. It’s not a matter of just throwing waste you generate in your yard and your kitchen into a pile and watering it and turning it every once in a while. For starters, to get the best compost, you’ve got to go out and seek things that you don’t have, or at least I don’t have, including different kinds of organic material, manure, and so on. Secondly, he talks about six inches of this, three inches of that, and inch of this, and then repeating it. That’s a compost berm. Come on, I’m not interesting in rebuilding Cahokia Mounds here.

I can buy the soil amendments I need, even organic compost, in the quantities I need to make my soil better for what bit of gardening I do. Given how little time I have of late to actually get out there and weed or pick ripe vegetables and fruit, I don’t need to take on another bit of labor for it based in the neatness of it or the protection of Mother Gaia.

Still, I learned a lot that I’ll never use, except maybe to make some compost tea–that is, let rain collect in my scraps bucket and water with that–and perhaps consider a little tumbler. But I’m not going to be a proper composter, and I never would have given up on that thought without this book. So I guess I can say it changed my life.

Books mentioned in this review:

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