What we found was all I could have wished: a lively community of worms, insects, slugs, and other critters shocked at the sudden change in light, temperature, and space. I'm sure they didn't appreciate the unceremonious flop to a new spot via pitchfork, but it was clearly the highlight of my day. Seeing so much life there convinced me that I am on the right track in my little corner of the farm. These creatures don't just break down the things in the bin, they signify life and a healthy soil, which means hearty plants and a good harvest. It felt like Christmas with a little bit of Thanksgiving thrown in for good measure, but missing the fireworks of Hanabi in August and the Fourth of July.
After taking a few celebratory photos, we finished turning the contents. Once the new bin was filled to the brim, we gave it a good drink of water. It had rained the day before, so things were damp, but with the sun-washed day still heading for its peak temperatures, a sprinkle of fresh water would refresh and encourage my slimy neighbors to resume breaking things down in their new digs.
There was enough leaf and hummus mix left to spread a few buckets on one and a half beds being prepped for summer crops. More went on the west wall bed in a space vacated by the yacon. The results may or may not be interesting. The west wall bed is never tilled, and the easternmost bed is tilled at least twice a year. After spreading the compost, I covered both areas with the black plastic material used to mulch the most recent round of winter crops. The plastic should keep things from blowing or washing away, and it raise temperatures underneath a bit to encourage decomposition. Battened down with a rather unattractive mix of old bricks and assorted stakes, they will cook away until tilling time.
A number of worms and other critters went along in each bucketful, and I'm hopeful they'll settle in comfortably. I worry some about the impending tilling of the eastern bed as that is not always a welcome activity for my quiet, slimy friends, but my fingers are crossed that some will hang around. Meanwhile, the remaining compost is a bit too chunky to be spread at this time. The farmers worry in turn and rightly so, about large pieces of things being tilled into the beds. The work of breaking down those big chunks can tie up valuable resources vegetables need for growing, but at this moment my desire to build a better soil is greater than the one for a homegrown sweet, fat kaboucha for our first round of houtou udon in the fall.