Flavour Guy: Will the city’s compost bins end our marriage?

The sprig of mint was part of the delicious but unpronounceable Thai salad. My mate took it and put it to the side. “I’m going to take it home and grow it,” she said.

“Can’t we buy mint in a grocery store,” I asked. “Sure, but it’s better if I take it from the restaurant.” There are philosophies that I will never understand: existentialism, phenomenology, whynotology. Taking a flower or fresh herb from a restaurant — when it will likely be desiccated by the time we get home — falls into the practicum of whynotology. It’s there, why not?

Besides, we have been trying to grow mint indoors for years, also basil, occasionally other herbs and our success is fulsomely nada. We could have acres of mint twigs to show you. Thankfully there is compost.

This is not to say that we are not adept at bringing forth gorgeous gardens. Celina and Rita have already changed the mud of winter into a glorious yard of crocuses and snowdrops with tips of tulips and iris sprouting. There is, of course, lots of what I (and I believe this is the technical term) call “green stuff” coming out. Once again, it is going to be spectacular.

I claim this is due to my superior compost — a tastefully blended mixture of coffee grounds, wet tea leaves, inedible bread crusts, fruit cores and vegetable peelings and the occasional melon rind and tamale wrapper, carefully mixed with a bag or two of raked leaves, left to ferment at its own speed, and eagerly munched upon by thousands of tiny invertebrates that scurry around gradually turning it into beautiful soil. This is the yin and yang of marriage. Celina creates, I destroy. So far it’s worked well.

The city, however may change all of this. Brown compost bins arrived on our steps recently. They nicely match our green recycling bins and grey garbage cans.  But with the city now picking up the compost, a crucial part of our partnership may be at risk.

Instead of deciding what we need for compost and what can be put into the garbage (meat and fish bones, overly mouldy cheese, egg shells, pineapple cores, corn cobs and other plant material that would take years to compost) now that the city has taken over my job, nothing has to be decided. Everything that isn’t garbage (and much that was, for that is the idea) goes into city compost. Instead of me culling it, lugging the bin to the back yard, and dutifully mixing savoury organic matter with what we have scraped up from the yard, the city will take it all away. Sometime in the fall or spring or whenever, we’ll get a note that compost is ready to be picked up. And, horrors, what happens if the city’s compost is better than mine!

What seemed like a helpful way to make the planet greener is obviously a meddlesome danger to hearth and home.

Could municipal compost clobber conjugality? Or is the City, in its good intentions, up against a Master plan? The Bible says Adam and Eve had
to work the ground. There is nothing that says they were supposed to give the compost to God and that God would give it back to them later in the season.

Well, the bins are here so I am willing to give this a chance and see what happens. Hopefully, our marriage can endure. And just maybe the City’s compost can get mint to grow indoors!


What better to contemplate this than with a nice cup of mint tea? Take a sprig of fresh mint, mash this with a little sugar, pour hot water over. Let it steep for a few minutes. Spearmint is nice in this and also in a mint julep or mojito. Peppermint is presumed better for an after dinner digestive tea.

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