The Care & Feeding of Compost: The Etiology of Dirt, and Thus Your Market-Driven Dinner

If you work your way down the food chain, traveling, say, from the quail fry with grits, chard, slab bacon and maple jus on the menu at Animal to the rows of chard and thus to the field in which the vegetables are grown, you will eventually come to the dirt itself. It's the sine qua non of a lot of things: your garden, your dinner. Making dirt, or composting, is not difficult, and if you are the sort of person who believes in recycling (backyard city gardeners, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom), it's part of the process.

When I started composting, I was amazed at the efficiency of it all. Also, for someone who grew up in Grant Wood Land, the purchase of a pitchfork (in West Hollywood no less) was deeply, profoundly satisfying. Here are a few composing tips, especially necessary in August. Firstly, use the pitchfork and turn your compost. Secondly, add leaves and stray newspapers for a sort of leavening (useful for annoying op-ed pieces, bad baseball trade news).

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly right now: water your compost. Yes, I know we're in the middle of a potentially catastrophic drought. (How bad? Read this blog.) But your compost needs hydrating as much as your Eureka lemon trees and late-season tomatoes (and your

gardener). And if you give your compost the care and feeding that it requires, think about all the chard you can grow yourself next year. Start your own farmers market. Supply Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo with chard for their restaurant yourself. Bet they'd trade you some bacon.


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