Do you think males and females compost differently...?

feijoas(New Zealand)February 9, 2013

I was out doing my standard single turn of the pile, adding in a random amount of lawn clippings and a few sacks of seaweed, and I got to thinking.
This forum is generally up to its metaphorical elbows in 'how-to' practicalities, but I thought I'd drag a bit of theory into things!

I don't care much about gear, ratios,speed, comparisons etc, which could be considered 'male' traits.
A large part of my backyard efforts involves providing hangouts for insects and birds.
So is nurturing the heck out of the local wildlife some sort of XX chromosome thing?
I'm aware my musings could be taken as being a bit sexist or something, but I'm just curious and thought I'd start a conversation.

So, do you think your gender influences/is reflected in your compost/garden/shed etc habits?
We're not talking stereotypes: I haul stinky things around wearing manky old clothes, and mice don't stand a chance...

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dirtguy50 SW MO z6a(6a)

Good Grief!!! Do you actually have a garden?

This post was edited by dirtguy50 on Sun, Feb 10, 13 at 1:59

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:56AM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Looks like I shouldn't have started this thread. Oh well!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:07AM
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The basic principles of composting, as outlined by Sir Albert Howard from what he learned from the Hunzas at Indore, so if you follow those it would not make any difference which gender you were. Of course there have been some that have thought there needed to be some thing a bit different, Rudolf Steiner and Ehrinfried Pfiffer among them, but even most of the female garden writers I have read stick with Howards composting method.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:59AM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

Ohhh, a philosophical discussion on the impact of gender on gardening/composting! Just the type of deliciously interesting thing that chatty me can get my feminine teeth stuck into...

I believe there must be a difference in approach between the genders. Gardening (and all of its related pursuits ) is one of those rare pleasures we can do our own way...militantly if we want to. Therefore our personalities and genders must factor into it. For example, hot vs cold composting, it's kind of hard to not create compost one way or we each do it our own way. Sometimes in seemingly unreasonable ways - watching a dear friend of mine compost is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, but its his pile and he's happy with it.

I have a particularly difficult life and the idea that I can take shite and create something wonderful out of it appeals to the XX in me. I suspect that it I tell my mentor in the agro supply store that he'd smile and shake his XY head at me ( as he often does when chatting to militantly female me).

The well justified stereotypes must factor in for me as well. I'm a nurturer. As my kids age and need me less I acquire plants that need more care. Stereotype or not - that's the way it is for me.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:43AM
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billums_ms_7b(Delta MS 8A)

Heck, I've completely changed the way I compost without changing genders.

I used to maintain a separate compost pile and haul finished compost to the beds.

Now I'm a firm believer in sheet and trench composting and think everything should be composted in place in my beds.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:45AM
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I have a slow, open compost pile, that gets dug out in the spring. My wife has little interest in maintaining the pile, but she uses it as a place for garden refuse when she is weeding and pulling up tomato vines and such, in the fall. We have clay soil here in Madison, and she appreciates the annual spring contribution of compost to the garden plot, which is now much easier to dig and work, after 20 years of amending. Since we live in the city of Madison, I am limited on what materials I can compost, so no manure goes into the pile, it is mostly browns. The yard is small, and the compost pile is next to our back porch, and about 10 feet from the neighbors back porch.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:15AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I don't think there is difference other then maybe males have more upper body strength for heavy jobs. If I work alone I just break the work into smaller more manageable load. Rather then move a huge load and hurt my back. I move many tiny loads instead.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Well, it's certainly easier for males to add urine to the pile.

FWIW, my wife's interest in gardening consists of walking around the yard for about 15 minutes on a nice afternoon, or accompanying me on a visit to the nursery and saying, "that's pretty" or "can you grow that?". Well, and she loves tomatoes.

More on-topic. I'm inclined to think that the "type of composter" on is--that is, concerned about ratios, temperature vs. just piling it all up--is probably more a function of personality type and/or time constraints.

I'm a nerd, so I take some pleasure from knowing that my piles have been over 150 deg. for a week, etc. However, this is my first fall/winter with a child, so I'm learning that 30-45 minutes to do a "full turn" of the piles is precious time, and there are other household chores that compete with that time. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:04PM
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The distaff side of the ledger are way better composters in my neck of the woods especially when she turns that pile in that tight little number she prances around in from time to time....lolololol

Im Ducking now.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:11PM
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While I am all for equality I also know that male and female brains are hard-wired differently. So there are likely to be some differences in the way men and women compost.

Men seem to like their 'toys' so I think they are more likely to use mechanical means to turn compost. I don't recall any women on this forum who turn their compost with a skid steer, tractor, or front-end loader. Personally I'd love to have a skid-steer but can't justify the cost just to make compost and don't have the need for one for anything else. The men who have the mechanical equipment probably also use it for work/business purposes so this could be related to gender. I think there are fewer women who own such machines for their business.

Men often have more physical strength and while I'm in pretty good shape for my age I tend to garden and compost the easiest way possible as pain is somewhat avoidable. So some men may turn their compost more often than I do.

My eyes tend to glaze over when the guys (and maybe some women) on this forum get into the technical stuff re: equipment or soil tests. However, I've never seen the need to learn such things to have a healthy garden. IMO it's likely more a personality issue.

I don't always nurture all the wildlife around here as some of them try to decimate my garden but because I know someone (male) who is a better shot than I am I let him shoot the marmots. This has nothing to do with gender but has to do with ability. I nurture plants that are not doing well and have had good success with that but consider it a matter of economics.

As far as gardening clothes are concerned I regard gardening and composting as a good way to get an even tan so I usually wear a bathing suit. That may be a gender thing, likely few male gardeners care about tan lines.

I guess I could have saved a lot of time by saying I think there are some gender differences in composting but most differences are due to personality, ability, and knowledge.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:28PM
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Fun discussion!

I could care less about ratios, greens and browns, etc. It all rots eventually. Even without me turning it. V. lazy composter.

As far as nurturing wildlife -- that's definitely a lot of the fun of gardening. It's why I indulge in my other lazy practice, which is letting all the flowers that seed themselves from the hay in my garden to grow as tall as they want to. Then I enjoy all the chirping and buzzing and flitting that goes on. It kills me to sometimes have to chop flowers down in order to give some light to a row of veggies.

I have this idea (maybe from photos?) that a lot of men like their gardens to be in neat rows, free of weeds, orderly, organized, etc. Mine is a mish mash of colors and things planted where there was room, mostly disorganized, but with minute attention to the care each plant needs. Attention to the details and the nurturing more than to the larger organization.

Did you know that Ruth Stout used to garden naked? And her garden could be seen from the road? Gutsy woman, that one.

I normally garden in a skirt -- now that's something you don't see many men doing :)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Interesting thread....I think there are some differences but as luckygal stated, it's probably more a function of personality versus gender. Having said that, I know a lot of elderly lady gardeners and they have a much greater appreciation of good compost than their husbands do even though the husbands are very into gardening. I can't count the number of ladies that grab a double handful of 'post and bring up to their sniffers and inhale. Without exception they get that dreamy look in their eyes and exclaim something to the effect of how good this will be for their ________ (insert type of plant here). Furthermore, when I deliver this compost to their house and spread it out on their gardens I always get invited in for coffee/tea and muffins/cookies. Keep in mind that many of these ladies knew my mother when she was the librarian in town and I was a kid riding my bike all over the place. Small prairie town, ya gotta love 'em.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:16PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Well, I've "trained" my DH to put things into the compost tub in the kitchen (though I take the time to chop everything as small as I can with the time I'm allowed)
He'll stuff anything into the compost bin, while I'm very careful to not put things in like yellow oxalis which is taking over my garden!
I have a pile for more twiggy stuff that won't break down very soon, oxalis and other invasive weeds that might be getting ready to go to seed. That goes out to the field! Never to be seen again! I know, I know- it will all compost eventually! I'm impatient and want my compost NOW! Nancy

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:24PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

That's more like it; thanks for indulging me guys.

I wasn't thinking about how personality could influence...stuff when I posted this,
but I agree,that's probably a bigger influence than our chromosomal makeup!
Of course, since I'm clearly feeling a bit mischievous, what with the girls vs boys theme, I think it's often pretty difficult to separate personality out from gender.
Well, we've flushed out a swimsuit gardener, anyway!
And Lloyd, I think you might be an example of a real XY composter with your setup!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:33AM
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david52 Zone 6

What, all these posts and nobody has come up with a version of "I likes my compost like I likes my women - hot, black, and steamy......"

Rather disappointed, I am.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:50PM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

David52 - I was with you for a moment, thinking "yeah! I could've said I like my compost to be like me!"...that is until I considered how much manure and coffee I put in my pile. Then I'd be hot, black and steamy but hyper and full of shite.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:05AM
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albertar(z7 LINY)

What a great thread, its been a long time since I've posted here, and I sure wish we had a "like" button like facebook does, LOL.

Hubby and I really do compost differently, I'm a pain in the butt about getting it fired up and cooking, while he just shrugs and couldn't really care less. He is the one who turns it, but I used to do it too, just can't really manage it anymore. I'm really hoping for an early spring, but we are now under more than 2 foot of snow, and more on the way tomorrow night. Happy composting everyone and yes, IALBTC.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:31AM
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"I don't recall any women on this forum who turn their compost with a skid steer, tractor, or front-end loader."

ME, ME, ME!!!

I use a 65HP John Deere with a front end loader to turn and move my compost pile. And sometimes I do it wearing a bikini top! (Down boys!)

I come from that sect of woman who never got over that horse crazed teenage girl thing and we tend to be quite handy at these types of things.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:40PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

For every rule there is the exception...or numerous ones, in this case. I think we can only speak in general tendencies. There are certainly masculine and feminine archetypes that manifest themselves in the way humans do things, but (according to psychologists) we each have the masculine and feminine within us. The two parts are in different ratios in different people.

My wife will buy gadgets and supplies for composting and gardening, which seems like a masculine thing, whereas I like to keep it simple. She feeds the birds and will not let me shoot the squirrels even when they eat our precious peaches and chow down on her bird food - nurturing and feminine. On the other hand she's the sports nut in the house, hollering for beer while I'm in the kitchen cooking. I just roll with it.

This post was edited by toxcrusadr on Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 10:58

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:01AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Agree with Luckygal above that men tend to like their "toys" and if it has a motor and is noisy and does something really powerful, it seems to give their manhood a boost.

I am female, with a pretty masculine personality, have many handy skills, and am physically strong - still schlepping around 100 pound bags of misc. items occasionally at age 53. BUT, in my middle age, and having had a demanding life as head of household for 18 years, and managing property and tenants, I am quite motivated to use energy - my own - or the earth's precious energy (fossil fuels) - in an efficient way to do life's work.

So I really "dig" lasagne beds, and my compost piles are usually cold piles at the edge or back of a garden that are never turned, and in a year or two they become an expanded part of that garden.

PS - I will actually work physically harder to do certain things - such as hand-digging, snow shoveling, sweeping, and raking, rather than use a fossil-fuel powered machine. I get a workout, no need to waste time, money, or gas going to the gym, and a little less CO2 is emitted. (Although I did use a snowblower - first time this winter - for Storm Nemo, because we received 24 inches of snow! That was more than this body could handle).

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:49PM
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I enjoy composting mostly because I am creating something. It's Alchemy. It's why I like gardening as well. Is that male or female in tendancy?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:58PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

mean, I think I've concluded that composting transcends simplistic gender differences...
Bring on the alchemy!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 5:18AM
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When an old friend smarted off at his boss & got "laid off" 4 months before his retirement, he was in a temorary financial bind.

so he scrunched down & absolutely stopped spending a dime...
& his wife spent $300 at the grocery store.

He was stunned & abashed & thought she'd lost her mind!

I told him, "It's what we do in lean times; we stock up."

(Everything worked out fine.)

So I think the male/female difference must apply to other things, too, like composting, but there's also a personality or perspective or "brain" difference.

Years ago I took a sales class about "The Four Personality Types".

the instructor gave us a handy hint to remembering them by connecting them to the 4 main characters in the old Startrek tv series.

must be in charge, must be the first, finds it easy to make decisions & take action.
(Captain Kirk)

Analyst or Engineer:
must have data.
When you provide this person with data, (s)he wants...more data.
Decision-making is not on the agenda, but meticulous to brilliant analysis is, & you can take this person's analyses to the bank.

talks to everybody, engages with everybody, operates from a basis of compassion & loves get-togethers.
(Dr McCoy)

Consultative or Family Type:
wants everybody to be on the same page, seeks consensus
(Mr Scott).

Leaders will buy the biggest & the best & the newest of whatever it is, & will delegate responsibilities & get the job done.

Analysts pore over technical information & take scrupulous notes, marking down core temps & listing every banana peel.

Social types don't care how it gets done, let's all just go out there & pitch in & who's gonna bring the beer? (& what fun to add it to the pile!)

Consultative types will mediate within the family or group, going from leader to analyst to extrovert, applying oil to troubled waters & making sure everybody gets whatever (s)he wants:
leader gets praise,
analyst gets sheaves of information,
extrovert has fun,
& the task/job/project gets done.

It all works!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:47PM
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I think if the bodies are mixed in with the correct proportion of carbons there really should be no difference in how they compost.



P.S. I waited a while before going down this path.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:52PM
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    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:58PM
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