How else do you describe compost to a three year old when I was trying to explain the process to him. He laughed at me and said “That’s silly!” Yes, I was thinking it was pretty silly when I found myself on a back country road during an evening snow storm last week all because I wanted to talk to a man about custom composting. After several moments of reflection, I came to my usual conclusion of “Yes. I’ve lost my mind.” Strangely enough that is somewhat comforting but also seems to be the most logical reason for most of my personal decisions lately.
Anyway, little did I know that I was going to go speak with a Geneva living legend named John Hicks.
I met Hicks, pictured above, at his office outside of Seneca Castle, NY. He is 82 and has his hands in more pies than anyone I have ever met. He mentioned at least 6-8 other businesses that he owns or is involved in while I was talking with him regarding compost. He still runs full marathons and has his medals proudly collected on the wall behind him and he mows lawns on the weekends. He’s a retired DEC manager, ex-marine, and wealth of general life knowledge. I only spent an hour or so with him and I can imagine how amazing more time would be. One of the Johnisms that I came away with was “I work hard to be lazy so I’m always working.” Boy, do I know how that feels!
We immediately bonded over our mutual love of soil microorganisms and we talked about the Biodynamic compost process compared to his worm composting process. Yes, my goal is to end up with quite a lot of Biodynamic compost by this fall. If we are going to start down the Biodynamic path, it’s best to do it from the start I think. I’m not willing to accept that if we may never be able to be certified, there is no point in doing any of it. John immediately understood what we are trying to accomplish and is excited to help us out.
In reality, I found out that John turns very little poop into dirt and uses mostly organic vegetable waste and leaves for his composting. He uses the worm castings from a previous batch to get a new one started and then after 6 months once a batch is complete, it gets sifted into a finely textured velvety mass of fresh soil. He also collects “worm tea” from the trenches and sells that as an easily applied, organic additive for lawns and gardens. He points out that healthy lawns will eventually choke out weeds however he does note that with these treatments “You won’t get more weeds but you will get bigger weeds.” The good news there is a bigger weed is easier to find to weed out (no pun intended).
I left my meeting with John with a jug of his worm tea, a bag of worm produced soil, and a much better feeling about life in general. We shook hands, excited to be new partners on a unknown adventure for either of us. I departed back on to the snow covered roads although by that time the snow had finished falling so the ride home was far less treacherous than the ride there.
If you are interested in learning more about John’s worm teas and composts go to his website http://www.organicsoilamendment.com.