The brag pages of a compost book I borrowed from my friend Tanya, raved on about making organic gold in a mere 18 days: from scratch, in winter, in Sydney, in an off-the-ground compost tumbler. Perfect! A detailed graph showing the mercury levels skyrocketting to 60 degrees C in just two days, had me convinced it could work. But after throwing in what I thought was a good mix of the right ingredients, I got thinking about how an off-the-ground metal compost tumbler could get enough heat to cook, especially in June. There was only one way to find out.
After tracking progess for a couple of weeks, it was disappointing but not surprising that the temperature hadn’t gone above 22 degrees C. I made a few adjustments after reading through the troubleshooting pages, waited another week and nothin’! Zip, nada, zilch! Not even a blip on the warmer days. I politely gave Tanya her book back. Despondent, I tracked down my husband and said ‘Honey, the compost’s not cooking!’. We talked about it a lot; actually I did all the talking and he listened. In the end we agreed on one thing – it definitely needed more of something.
In composting circles, there’s a lot of talk about worms: worms with radar that sniff out warm compost heaps from their subterranean caves. They worm their way in to the compost heap, as only worms can and do the stuff only worms know how to do. When they’ve finished doing their work, they suddenly disappear without notice and apparently, this is the sign that your compost is ready! How amazing is that! But there’s no way any worm could get itself into my tumbler, unless of course it was incredibly talented or I put one in there myself. And then, would it survive or do compost worms actually need soil too. And where will it go when it’s done its job? There’s only one way to find out….
….The deal was done. I knew from the moment I met her that she was into it. A few code words, a look of desperation, a wink and she knew exactly what I needed. Jo, my friend from work, is bringing me in a few pounds….of starter compost with worms!