Joy of Composting

Joy of Composting is the brainchild of Marion Owen of Kodiak, Alaska.

Her adventure into composting began in 1985, soon after moving to Kodiak Island. Anxious to try something new, she quit going to sea for a living, having worked on tugboats and research ships since 1977.

“What next?” she asked herself. The response that came to her was immediate and clear:Photography and gardening.

Never mind that she’d never grown a tomato or head of lettuce.

In order to garden though, she needed dirt.

She quickly learned that Kodiak’s soil was quite acidic: Good for supporting Sitka spruce trees and wild blueberries, but not good for growing kale and cucumbers.

So, off to the local library she went (remember, this was pre-internet) to study up on organic gardening methods.

The world “compost” kept coming up in the references. She called the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service office.

“Could you tell me how I can learn about composting,” she asked

“It will take five years to get finished compost,” replied the nice lady on the phone.

“Five YEARS!”

It was February and if Marion wanted to eat lettuce in June, time was of the essence.

Back to the library to check out some books. In her reading, she came across reference to Sir Albert Howard, the English botanist who, while working in India in the 1920s, developed the “Indore” method of composting whereby one could have finished compost in four weeks.

Sir Albert helped launch the organic gardening movement.

While Kodiak, Alaska was on the other side of the world from India, Marion was inspired to give composting a try. So in 1986, in the corner of her backyard, with bins made from wood pallets, Marion began experimenting with composting.

“I figured that if I could make compost during an Alaska winter, I could make it anytime, anywhere. And so could everyone else.”

Today, Marion continues to write a weekly gardening column and has clocked in over 1,200 articles.

Why is composting so important?

“Because the path to the garden of your dreams and the solution to many of our Earth’s woes can be found by making compost.”