The kitchen and the garden

Regardless of how and why you celebrate Christmas – including the statistically likely chance that you do not – there is something about this time of the year that makes life busier that a Jackson Pollock painting in a blender. Its been nearly five days of relentless frost in LizzieLand which means that heading out the door requires a few extra minutes to slip into the thermals, don hat, scarf, gloves and jacket. Contrast that to summer when you can slip out the door as soon as you’ve pulled on a pair of yellow budgie holders and it’s easy to see where the time goes.

SheWhoMustBeFed has the unenviable task of dropping the larger of the loinfruit to school, which unfortunately in these climatic end times is a vehicular exercise. No public transport alternatives exist that would take less than 90 minutes and two changes and it takes me at least 45 minutes to cycle to the school, never mind what it would take a loinfruit of the shorter legged variety to ride. And…no closer schools. So when Jack Frost has been busy we can also add another few minutes to preparation time to allow for the scraping of car windows before heading off. The VegHead has the more invigorating task of dropping off the Lesser Loinfruit to his school, which is a ten minute cycle away. There’s nothing like the rush of -2c air past the earholes first thing in the morning to blow away any vestigial memories of sleepy cuddles under the body warm blankets.

Back home again this morning by ten past nine, to slop out the kitchen scraps into the compost and clean up the kitchen from the morning’s whirlwind of busy-ness. This is stage one in the compost making in what is a “3 bin” method. Positioned out of sight but not too far from the kitchen door is a standard galvanised iron domestic rubbish bin. Holes have been punched in the base with an axe to allow for excess liquid to drain – it sits straight onto the ground and so provides a ready source of food for the worms. All kitchen scraps go into this, plus the occasional unbleached paper bag torn into pieces.

About the only organic kitchen waste that doesn’t go in are pumpkin seeds. The little bastards survive even the most effective of compost heaps and hundreds of pale pumpkin seedlings will emerge the next summer from the composted soil. They take over the tomatoes and bully the basil – so it’s into the rubbish with them. So too for avocado skins and seeds, which just never break down.

The galvanised iron bin was chosen as it is rodent proof and, having a base, can be carried over to the second stage bin when full. Admittedly by the time its full it’s normally turned into an odiferously dense anaerobic wonder that requires two people to carry its weight down the garden to the second bin. This is a task that SheWhoMustBeFed loathes, but helps with in that cheerfully grudging manner that is a sure sign of a lifelong and deathbed partner.

The second stage bin is an open bottom composting bin and it is here that true aerobic and wormful decay occurs – usually helped along with a handful of an organic compost-starting enzyme. Six to eight weeks later the second stage bin has composted to a sweet smelling loam. It is shovelled into the third bin, which is one of those tumble jobs. Here it is stored until needed on the garden, and the cycle begins again.

In five years this compost has added about 10cms of organic material across the approximately 25 square metre veggie patch. Helping to turn what was very dense and clayey clod into a productive and crumbly home for a million worms and in spring, the season’s seeds.

The life and love in the kitchen thus extends both directly into the very essence of our bodies through the food we prepare and share, and also back into the earth as food for the plants that provide some of the basic ingredients we use. We feel the wheels turn of the infinite regenerative cycles that keep life sustained and appreciate our place within them. Existing not as a bystander, but as a singular, interwoven and contributory component of the web.