Stumbling Upon Master Composters, Compost Cranks, and Things Like That


I was walking around downtown Denver one pleasant spring day. I don’t exactly remember what I was doing or why I was walking around, but there I was.

I strolled past a house with about 10 million pounds of dry leaves in the front yard.

(Double take)

I had recently started composting and was having a hard time finding the brown matter (more on that in a bit, let me finish my story!) There was a man outside raking, and the inner-composter in me could not help but flag him down and ask him what he was planning to do with all the leaves.

He was like,

“Ummm throw them away?”

And so I said, 

“Can I have them please?!?!”

He gave me the most confused look….


I started explaining that I was on the prowl for brown matter for my brand new compost pile (which I was super pumped about) and that leaves were like, “the most perfect brown matter ever!!” and “exactly what I was looking for!!” and that it would “totally make my entire day if I could put all the leaves into the back of my mini van!!*

(Actual footage of me during this conversation.)

He was super nice and said he was just hired to rake the leaves, but that he would ask the owner if he could make my dream come true.

Meanwhile, I sprinted to go get my van, which was parked a couple blocks away.

When I returned, the owner of the house was outside. He asked why I wanted the leaves and when I told him my intentions, he launched into this huge spiel about the ultimate compost health and how I should not use his leaves because they were on a lawn that had been treated with weed killer and how that would be tragic for my sweet heap of decaying goodness.

I stared at him with admiration and respect and asked how he knew all this. Turns out he’s a casual MASTER COMPOSTER and has his Master’s in Compost Science!!! Nbd**

So then we talked compost for a long while, and regaled him on all my struggles and ponderings as just starting out, and “Did he have any tips?”  

And then he said,

Here, come with me into my garden shed, I want to show you something***”

Naturally I followed him. He opened the shed and he pulled something out from behind the door that looked kind of like a humongous corkscrew.

“What is that?” I asked

“A compost crank of course!” he said

After he explained it to me, he gave it to me for free, out of the goodness of his jolly and kind heart. What a dear! And although I walked away without a van-full of leaves, I had a sweet new way to aerate my compost! Hooray!

The End.

This is how a compost crank works btw.



*I used to rock a really sweet white Chrysler Town and Country. Her name was Judith and she was amazing. I sold her to get a Subie last year–it was time to get something that handled better in the mountains, but I miss her everyday.

** Just kidding, HUGE DEAL! So much respect!

***Sheds and strangers sometimes are not the safest combo and can sometimes turn stories from fun to scary, so be careful out there kids! But fear not, in this story, it was a-okay!