Thursday, 10 October 2013

Death threats and composting

My daughter is learning about growth and development at school. Which I discovered when I overheard this conversation between her and my mother-in-law ...

"What did you learn at school today?"
"That it goes: baby, toddler, child, teenager, grown up, Grandma, dead. So you'll die next, Grandma."
"Don't worry. You'll just go to Devon - that's where dead people live.....but Ben lives in Devon and he's not dead, so how does that work?"
"I think you mean Heaven."
"No, it's Devon. But I'm not going to Devon - I'm going to be an elephant. And mummy doesn't believe in cheeses so she's going to turn into dirt." 
More silence.
"So, when are you going to die, Grandma? I think it'll be soon because you're quite old, aren't you?"

She's a delight. And she was on a roll. Later that week, she stomped out of school complaining that one of her friends kept telling on her. Apparently she had been repeatedly telling her small 5 year old friend that she was going to die (not in a threatening way, more creepy and serious). She was baffled as to why her friend took issue with it, but smug that she didn't get into trouble.

 "I told the teacher that it's not mean because it's true. She is going to die. And so is the teacher. But I said they could be elephants too if they liked. Because that's kind, isn't it? Yes it is. Don't you think so, mum?" 

Um. Is it kind to tell someone they can be an elephant after they've been terrified into thinking they're about to die?

Anyway, I've decided to harness the horrifying macabreness of my offspring and give it a less socially disturbing outlet. I am proud to say I have resurrected our (ie. the people we bought the house from's) old compost bin and tried to transfer her interested to decaying vegetables instead. 
It's not going well. But I'm still hoping it will satisfy her disturbing obsession with death.

The three main obstacles to composting in our house so far have been:
1. Spiders under the lid of the compost bin. Every. Damn. Day.
2. Having to walk outside and touch gross stuff. Hassle.
3. Knowing what to put in the bin, how long to leave it for and how to get it out (so basically everything to do with composting)
4. My 3 year old son eating the decaying scraps while I'm trying to put them in the bin.
So, for those of you as dumb as me, I have created a basic how-to-compost-when-you're-lazy-and/or-clueless guide (although if your local council has a food 
waste collection service, you might not want to bother.)
Composting for dumb people
1. Buy a compost bin for outside plus a mini bin for inside. Ideally put  your outside bin in a sunny spot on bare earth.
2. Fill your bin with this stuff - a mix of 'greens' (tea bags, fruit and vege peelings, salad scraps, grass cuttings, coffee filters etc) and 'browns' (cardboard, egg cartons, paper, fallen leaves, twigs, bark). Too much of one or the other is bad, so mix it up well to get a good blend of both greens and browns. 
3. Don't put this stuff in - meat, cooked veg, dairy, diseased plants, weeds with seed heads, nappies, dog poo or cat litter.
3. Wait for ages (about 9-12 months) and keep topping it up.
4. Look at it - once it looks like crumbly, dark soil and smells earthy, it’s ready to use. So lift the bin a little bit or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost.
5. Stick it on your garden

That's it! Hopefully you now know vaguely more about composting, or how to terrify an old lady, than you did 5 minutes ago. 
If you would like more detailed info, visit

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