Colossal (to me, anyway) Compost Kerfuffle Answered
[warning: contains some rant-like content]
I am so angry that I can't see straight.
My apartment building has a Community Garden, which is good. Our rules and guidelines which are especially emphatic about keeping the gardens all natural and organic, and chemical and pesticide-free. To this end, there is an "Approved Garden Products" list specifying the chemicals and fertilizers that may be used in the gardens. The list includes "Walt's" brand organic fertilizer, "Cedar Grove" compost, and six product made by Miracle-Gro.
I had two 4' x 5' plots in the Community Gardens last year, which I heavily amended with the compost from my worm bins. I submitted a request to have an organic fertilizer mix that I have on hand added to the approved list, but the only response I received was another employee telling me: "I emailed Jane (not her real name) about it, and she emailed back to tell to you that Walt's is the best one to use." I should have followed up on this, but was too angry and aghast to speak to Jane about it immediately, and later never did get around to grasping that particular nettle.
This year I'm doing just one 4' x 5' plot. I dug in some compost on Sunday, and on Tuesday I received the following letter (all names have been changed for internet purposes):
Dear Ms. Gorfram,
I wanted to follow up with you regarding an email I received about "homemade" compost that you may be using in your garden.
The garden agreement has specific items that can be used in the garden, unless you are using a combination of those ingredients, your "homemade" compost hasn't been approved yet. If you would like to submit the ingredients of your compost for review we can take a look at it and try to get it on the list as well. In the mean time please use only the Cedar Grove compost or any other product on the approved list.
We appreciate you help in this matter.
(Spelling and punctuation very much hers, very much verbatim)
She insulted my compost. She accused me of violating the gardening agreement. She is demanding that I list every last darned thing that I ever put into my compost and submit it to her for approval. She appears to be confusing my compost with the fertilizer that I asked to have added to the approved list. She either does not necessarily believe that I do make my own compost, or she is misusing quotation marks to indicate emphasis.
...She insulted my compost!
Not wanting to alienate the manager of my apartment building by telling her that she is a slavering ignoramus who does not know the difference between compost and fertilizer, I responded with the following:
In re: your letter of June 9, 2009
Dear Ms. Doe,
Perhaps there is some misunderstanding about my use of soil amendments in my Community Garden plot.
The compost that I use in my garden plot contains no chemicals or pesticides. It is made entirely from vegetable waste from my kitchen and garden, to which I add water and locally native earthworms. It is my understanding that this sort of bulk organic matter does not need to be reviewed for the Approved Garden Products list. In answer to a related question asked at the July 15, 2008, Community Gardener's Meeting, John Galt (n.b. Jane Doe's boss) said, "As long as it doesn't contain pesticides or chemicals, you don't need to tell us about it."
The email your letter refers to may have been in regard to my August, 2008 request to have "Dr. Earth Organic 7" fertilizer added to the Approved Gardening Products list. For your convenience, I have attached a new copy of the information about "Dr. Earth Organic 7" and its ingredients that I submitted with my request. I look forward to receiving approval of "Dr. Earth Organic 7" for use in the Community Gardens, or a statement of your reasons for denying this request, soon.
Evelyn Q. Gorfram
Am I nuts? Should I be this mad? Should I tell her to take her 20 square feet of soil and suggest where she might put them? Should I demand that we duel at dawn unless she publicly retracts her dread insults to my compost?