Today’s gift-giving went cross-species. I’ve got this high-tech hot composter in my back garden. When you maintain it properly it will reach temperatures high to kill plant pests and weed seeds. However, we let it cool down over the winter, by failing to feed it regularly, and a city of ants moved in. I really should dig out the composter and start it over again, the back garden is desperate for quality organic matter, but everytime I lift the lid and see what the ants have accomplished I just can’t bring myself to destroy their civilization.
The most phenomenal accomplishment I watched them perform was to coat a dried up kale stalk with about a half centimeter of finished compost from the bottom of the bin. I’m not sure if they are farming it, but they spent days walking around on the surface doing something too minute for my human eyes.
There are many other creatures living in the bin, including worms, slugs and snails. One of my friends from the green book group confided that since reading Elisabeth Tova Bailey‘s book, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, she’s been unwilling to kill garden snails. Instead, she’s been moving them into her compost bin in the hopes that regular supplies of kitchen scraps and newly pulled weeds will convince them to stay put and leave her vegetables alone.
This evening, after dinner I took a week’s worth of kitchen waste and gave it to the compost colony. Despite the drizzly, windy weather we’ve been having, the compost bin read a cosy 25C. I’m not sure what the outcome of this cross-species gift-giving will be, but who knows maybe generosity will triumph over the traditional confilct between gardener and gastropods.