A Milestone & letting go: lâcher prise
Levain: Giving bread its spark of life...in France or in The Wild West

une épluchure, les déchets, la poubelle: words in today's caper...involving compost

Purple basil coquelicots

Here is where a themed photo usually appears, above the word of the day. But you don't want to look at potato peelings do you? Enjoy, instead, a picture of our garden from springtime 2018. Strangely, all the red coquelicots, or poppies, did not return in 2019....

Today's Word: épluchure

    Une épluchure, c'est un morceau de peau d’un légume ou d’un fruit
    A peeling is a bit of skin from a vegetable or fruit
Exercises in French Phonics - A little gem of a book for French pronunciation. Order here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When we moved to La Ciotat two years ago, one of our first tasks was to find a place to recycle all of our kitchen scraps, or déchets de cuisine. But in the years since we began composting, rarely have we actually gotten to use the finished product! I can't remember collecting more than a few buckets, or seaux, of the "black gold" in all the time I have painstakingly set aside rotten tomatoes, épluchures, apple cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, even my husband's underpants and socks! De plus, I regularly go through the kitchen poubelle, plucking out orange peels and banana skins that sometimes end up there.

Beyond our kitchen door, steps lead out to a side yard, and there, beneath the kitchen window, against the house, is where we set up our bac à compost : an unsightly plastic cube (and free gift from the town hall). Only, after one full year of collecting scraps daily, with the aim of making mulch, I noticed the pile was not growing. In fact it seemed to be at a standstill.

I thought about a comment one of our harvesters made, years ago: "Never place your compost pile beside un arbre....or the tree will eat your compost!" That sounded like something right out of a sci-fi book!

Come to think of it....when we first moved to this bungalow, I could see right through the sparse hedge outside my kitchen window, right through to my neighbor's bedroom window, just meters away. These days, while sipping my coffee at the kitchen sink, I notice the house has disappeared behind that hedge, which has filled in and then some.

Did that hedge eat my compost? It was time to get to the bottom of things--the bottom of the compost pile--to find out what was happening! I asked Jean-Marc to help transfer the compost over to the potager, where sunflowers grew last summer.
Sunflowers and smokey golden retriever

The two of us began shoveling rotten grapes, potatoes, and other as-yet-decomposed food onto a tarp that we placed beside the composteur.

When we dug deep enough to see soil, or hummus, that is when I saw the network of roots! Like a fine web crawling through the soil, the tiny roots made it difficult to break up the mass. By the time we reached the bottom, with the help of a hoe, we saw the giant tube-like roots. They reminded me of a hose siphoning all of the goodness out of MY compost pile.

Later, still livid, I told the whole story to Mom. "Can you believe it. That hedge ate MY compost! It snuck its hose-like roots up into the bin from below and sucked it dry! Worse, all that black gold might have gone to that tree in the middle of the hedge-- the one the rats use to climb on top of our roof! Imagine, all that effort gone into feeding a useless tree!

Mom, amused by my compost caper, stopped laughing in time to correct me. "There is no such thing as a worthless tree."

Well, I can't argue with Mom! Meantime, and from here on out, I'm feeding my kitchen scraps directly to my vegetable garden -- nevermind how odd my husband's underwear looks scattered beside the sunflowers!

I leave you with a wonderful book I bought years ago and gave away to a friend. I need to get another copy. It is called Lasagna Gardening, and it is all about placing your épluchures directly in the garden. Try it! This book makes an excellent gift for a gardener, too

Lasagna gardening

déchets de cuisine = kitchen scraps
le seau = bucket
une épluchure = fruit or vegetable peeling
de plus = what's more
la poubelle = garbage
bac à compost = compost bin
un arbre = tree

Mirabel plum tree
Picture of a Mirabel prune tree growing near our compost. Perhaps it benefitted from the compost pile, too? I hope!

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