To My Readers
A few special books live on in my mind. These were always enjoyable reading. The author’s words seemed to speak directly to me like a good friend’s conversation pouring from their eyes, heart and soul. When I write I try to make the same thing happen for you. I imagine that there is an audience hearing my words, seated in invisible chairs behind my word processor. You are part of that group. I visualize you as solidly as I can. I create by talking to you.
It helps me to imagine that you are friendly, accepting, and understand my ideas readily. Then I relax, enjoy writing to you and proceed with an open heart. Most important, when the creative process has been fun, the writing still sparkles when I polish it up the next day.
I wrote my first garden book for an audience of one: what seemed a very typical neighbor, someone who only thought he knew a great deal about raising vegetables. Constitutionally, he would only respect and learn from a capital “A” authority who would direct him step-by-step as a cookbook recipe does.
So that is what I pretended to be. The result was a concise, basic regional guide to year-round vegetable production. Giving numerous talks on gardening and teaching master gardener classes improved my subsequent books. With this broadening, I expanded my imaginary audience and filled the invisible chairs with all varieties of gardeners who had differing needs and goals.
This particular book gives me an audience problem. Simultaneously I have two quite different groups of composters in mind.
What one set wants the other might find boring or even irritating. The smaller group includes serious food gardeners like me. Vegetable gardeners have traditionally been acutely interested in composting, soil building, and maintaining soil organic matter. We are willing to consider anything that might help us grow a better garden and we enjoy agricultural science at a lay person’s level.
The other larger audience, does not grow food at all, or if they do it is only a few tomato plants in a flower bed. A few are apartment dwellers who, at best, keep a few house plants. Yet even renters may want to live with greater environmental responsibility by avoiding unnecessary contributions of kitchen garbage to the sewage treatment system. Similarly, modern home owners want to stop sending yard wastes to landfills.
These days householders may be offered incentives (or threatened with penalties) by their municipalities to separate organic, compostable garbage from paper, from glass, from metal or from plastic. Individuals who pay for trash pickup by volume are finding that they can save considerable amounts of money by recycling their own organic wastes at home.
The first audience is interested in learning about the role of compost in soil fertility, better soil management methods and growing healthier, more nutritious food. Much like a serious home bread baker, audience one seeks exacting composting recipes that might result in higher quality. Audience two primarily wants to know the easiest and most convenient way to reduce and recycle organic debris.
Holding two conflicting goals at once is the fundamental definition of a problem. Not being willing to abandon either (or both) goals is what keeps a problem alive. Different and somewhat opposing needs of these two audiences make this book somewhat of a problem. To compensate I have positioned complex composting methods and the connections between soil fertility and plant health toward the back of the book. The first two-thirds may be more than sufficient for the larger, more casual members of my imaginary audience. But I could not entirely divide the world of composting into two completely separate levels.
Instead, I tried to write a book so interesting that readers who do not food garden will still want to read it to the end and will realize that there are profound benefits from at-home food production. These run the gamut from physical and emotional health to enhanced economic liberty. Even if it doesn’t seem to specifically apply to your recycling needs, it is my hope that you will become more interested in growing some of your own food. I believe we would have a stronger, healthier and saner country if more liberty-loving Americans would grow food gardens.