The smell of composting

For the last two years, I've been piling all the fallen leaves into a large, handmade box adjacent to my studio.  It holds about 64 cubic feet of material and was at the point where it needed to be emptied if I was going to have a place to put all the leaves that are falling now.

So, over the last few days, as I was working on the portrait of Patrick Noble and his siblings, I grabbed the shovel on my breaks, and began whittling away at this pile of compost.

The leaves on the surface, probably 6 inches deep, are still intact and will need an additional season to breakdown.  But under that layer is rich, soil-like material that will get mixed into our various raised garden beds later in October.

The smell, as I chisel away at the compost pile that has been breaking down for two full cycles, is heavenly.  Being from the prairies, that rich, fertile aroma is part of my DNA.

This is an incredibly easy way of taking the organic material that would otherwise get bagged up and hauled away, and letting it take its natural course and decompose.  Without any additional effort, apart from doing what I'm doing now - harvesting the compost - we will have a huge pile of organic richness to mix into our gardens and ensure a healthy growing season next spring and summer.

To build the storage box I used leftover fence boards and some wire mesh I found laying around.  It has been one of the best re-use projects I have ever built.


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