Friday, October 10, 2008


One doesn't generally associate neatness with compost; in fact, I never do. For me, compost has always been synonymous with mess. A lovely-in-its-own-beautiful-way mess (with fermentation added, to differentiate it from my workspace). That was certainly true of my own compost pile, a chaotically ongoing accumulation of leaves, cuttings, fertilizers, kitchen garbage, wood ash, wormy chestnuts, chestnut-burr ash and various other random organic detritus of country living.

A couple of weeks ago (as chronicled below) I added some lime to the pile and raked it all to one side to sort of sit there and cure, and it was a mess the way I left it, sort of like a stormy sea of darkly vague unpleasantness. I was going to rake it all out maybe this weekend if I could find the time, good luck on that, and then at some point spread it all on the garden and make ready for next year's pile, starting with the soon-falling leaves, but before I had to do all that postponing I had a little brainstorm.

As the attentive reader will recall, I had found a number of kabutomushi larvae in the pile when I was raking it out, they seem to like it there, for its heat, softness and nutrition... I thought maybe since kids (mainly boys) paid money for the adult insects, someone might like to take a few pre-insects for their science class or something, then they'd get their beetles and I'd get my compost pile properly organized, without lifting a finger.

So on the off-chance we checked with the Haruya boys and learned that they had found a female kabutomushi in September and were now kabutomushi fanatics hoping that she'd laid some eggs and they'd get some larvae, so when we said you want some kabutomushi larvae for free they said wellberightoverknockknock. You'd think we gave them each a Ferrari, they were so joybouncy. Of course the kabutomushi is the Ferrari of insects among Japan boys, so their delight was understandable.

We got out the rake and let them have at it, imposed a larval quota, first time I ever did that, told them to leave the compost pile neat when they were finished, and when they were done digging up their quota they rearranged everything, you never saw such a neat compost pile, flat and even as a fine dark shag carpet, I'm gonna feel bad messing up that elegant area out there.

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