Don’t Leave Your Compost Behind: Tote the Garden Gold With You

Lisa Kaplan Gordon's compost drum Compost drums are easy to keep, but moving them is another story—that's a heavy load. Image: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

For a gardener, there is no greater bliss than cooking compost, and no greater loss than leaving that time-intensive rot behind when we downsize, upsize, or move for a new job.

Instead of abandoning newly minted earth, the smart move is to take it with you. That’s what I did.

My first pound of compost took a year to emerge from the drum my husband gave me on our first wedding anniversary (seemed sexy at the time). By year three, my compost pile of vegetable peels and spent tulips was cooking. So, when we built a new house across town, there was no way I was leaving that garden gold behind.

Moving compost isn’t easy. The metal drum weighs 80 pounds empty. Fully loaded, it’s a back breaker.

Thus began the sort-and-pack process. I opened the trap and dumped the lot onto the ground. I shoveled the cooked compost, which crumbled in my fingers, into heavy plastic garbage bags. I put the half-baked soil and rotting organics in separate parcels.

The movers lifted the compost drum into the van. But my husband and I hauled the 12 bags of compost on our backs, like beasts, to a corner of our new homestead, which had once been a dahlia farm.

As our house grew up, our compost bags continued to break down the green and brown organics, which is their job and joy.

Thirteen years later, my compost drum has fed more plants than I can count and more gardens than I can weed. Each spring I dig in a fresh bed of dahlias—a salute to the earth here before me, and the earth I brought along.

Do you compost? How long has your compost been cooking, and would you move it with you?