Monthly Archives: October 2009

Holy smokes!

Steaming compost

Actually, it's steam, and what's steaming is the compost pile I wrote about yesterday. Now, I've often seen steam when I've dug into a compost heap, but I've never seen an undisturbed pile steaming away like a small volcano.

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Hot compost, anyone?

Hot compost

Should you drop by to visit, some bitterly cold night, and find my house locked, and should you be so lacking in good sense or hard cash that you don’t just head for a hotel on Main Street a mile away, I invite you to climb into my latest compost pile. Granted, it’s both damp and dirty, but it’s several cuts above Luke Skywalker’s accommodations, the night he spent in the belly of the beast. And it’s guaranteed to keep you warm. In fact, you might get burnt: the temperature is over 140°F.

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Table scraps to the rescue! SF leads the way

source: Jepson Prairie Organics

Callooh callay, oh frabjous day! San Francisco has just become the first American municipality to institute city-wide compulsory collection of food scraps, which get composted. Nationwide, the EPA reports that food scraps make up an appalling 13% of the refuse currently sent to landfills. Once there, they decay anaerobically (without oxygen), a process that produces methane, a greenhouse gas which is twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide.*

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Whatever happened to autumn?

Picture 5

Having more or less skipped spring this year, the weather decided to go for a double and skip autumn as well. This it accomplished by delivering the hottest September on record—on a par with a normal July—and then plunging straight into winter.

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GBMD Lia Purpura, “First Leaf”

There are actually two poems from recent New Yorkers that I want to share, but for the moment I’ll stick to the more recent and most seasonally apt one. If a dozen other garden bloggers already  posted this, my apologies for being out of touch. (I’m still getting online only intermittently–more intermittently than I’d realized; I can’t believe it’s a month since I’ve posted! Well, the garden season here has ended so precipitously that I should have more time soon.)

I’m always curious, when I post a poem, whether readers like it or not, and why, so please feel free to post a comment.

First Leaf

by Lia Purpura
The New Yorker October 5, 2009

That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
it could
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
yet ferocious,
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
went alone,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
got seen.


That first yellow leaf–usually a whole cluster–usually appears here sometime in mid-August, irrespective of the weather. So it was this year, even though we had a September as hot as most Julys. Someone told me that the trees react not to weather but to the length of days. That would explain why now, after two weeks of winter weather, the trees still hang onto their leaves, tenacious and suspicious.