Was just out in the cool, long-light evening, turning the compost with a garden fork and musing on decay. When I see worms in bins, garden beds or in the soil, I imagine a better future in which that zoological multitude replenishes and renews the earth of Earth. Recent research is telling us how important earthworms are in the carbon cycle and offer some positive news regarding climate change.

There’s lots of hopeful information about improved organic soils and carbon sequestration, and those stories aid my determination. We’re pretty good composters around everything in the kitchen, and beyond, and save our pee a lot of the time, and are trying to figure out an affordable or easy-DIY compost-loo situation. We live on the outskirts of a town, but it feels like the country; what we do would certainly be possible in many suburban situations too, and kudus to those urban pioneers doing it under more crowded social conditions!

Great minds and hands need to transform the systems of human waste disposal into retrieval, safe and useful and put to use building vital, rich, biodiverse soils good at absorbing carbon and water alike.  In fact, 2015 is the International Year of Soils, so a good time to learn about these issues- and then “each one, teach one” and spread the word.  I’m hoping changes in attitudes and behaviour can happen at the both individual/personal as well as wide-scale, mass-planning levels.

Today our old friend Bill posted this really wonderful video of harvesting the goods with his young daughters from compost loos he and friends had built four years earlier.

For the useful how-to information, here’s his video about building those loos for at a summertime camping festival:

Meanwhile, there’s lots we can do in our more immediate worlds with plant and food waste. I’m excited to be exploring, at long last, the use of the Japanese “Bokashi” approach to fermenting waste.

I remember having read a great section in Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation on non-food uses of fermentations; if you don’t have this book, I was able to find that section on-line here. Bokashi composting uses fermented bran (you can buy it this way or ferment bran yourself) to innoculate your food waste, essentially fermenting or “pickling” it to then feed to your animals or apply directly in trenches in your soil to your plants.

This is a wonderful instruction of the Bokashi method of fermenting food waste to facilitate good decomposition, with some fascinating history as well. I find the idea of making my own fermented bran easy, but having to dry it– umm, when in Wales are the proper drying conditions ever guaranteed?

Nevertheless, I want to try it! On my list.  Because, well, wouldn’t it be wonderful to ferment your food waste for the worms, composing/decomposing a sacred feast?

And in the meantime, a demonstration:


Song of the Worms Margaret Atwood

We have been underground too long,
we have done our work,
we are many and one,
we remember when we were human
We have lived among roots and stones,
we have sung but no one has listened,
we come into the open air
at night only to love
which disgusts the soles of boots,
their leather strict religion.
We know what a boot looks like
when seen from underneath,
we know the philosophy of boots,
their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.
We are afraid of boots
but contemptuous of the foot that needs them.
Soon we will invade like weeds,
everywhere but slowly;
the captive plants will rebel
with us, fences will topple,
brick walls ripple and fall,
there will be no more boots.
Meanwhile we eat dirt
and sleep; we are waiting
under your feet.
When we say Attack
you will hear nothing
at first.