Ronel Janse van Vuuren How you Remind me GOG V.2

How You Remind Me by Ronel Janse van Vuuren in Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2
The Blurb:
Fed up with his pantheon’s disrespect, Anubis decides to take a well-deserved break. Unfortunately, the world tends to fall into chaos when he’s not around – literally.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren How you Remind me in Grumpy Old Gods V.2

Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2

The Grumpy Old Gods are back in this second installment of mythical fun. Join us for 13 new tales of deities that are retired, reborn, waning, or AWOL from their assigned posts as they hilariously navigate life, death, and everything in between.

Available Now on Amazon!

The Grumpy Old Gods are back in this second installment of mythyical fun. Read Ronel Janse van Vuuren's short story How You Remind Me. Sometimes a god just needs a break… Click To Tweet
Ronel Janse van Vuuren How you Remind me in Grumpy Old Gods V.2

How You Remind Me by Ronel Janse van Vuuren in Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2

Ronel Janse van Vuuren How you Remind me in Grumpy Old Gods V.2

About Ronel

Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.

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Ronel the Mythmaker, Website Dark Fantasy Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren:

How You Remind Me by Ronel Janse van Vuuren in Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2

Today Ronel is going to talk about her newest novel Magic at Midnight and Composting.

Ronel is from South Africa so uses British spelling.

Magic of Composting

Compost isn’t fully decomposed: it is, to microorganisms, still big pieces of food that needs to be consumed. Which means that it is still alive and full of possibility when you mix this black soil into the earth surrounding your plants. But how does it get to that stage?

Rats, worms, bugs and microscopic organisms all play their part in nature. Rats, of course, have a bad reputation and we instinctively shy away from them. Black Plague, anyone? They do play a part on your compost heap, though. At least, if you do it like I do.

My compost heap is done in layers: mulch (twigs, leaves, wood shavings – from the chicken coops and stables), horse manure, weeds (without their seeds) and other plant material, followed by seeds and bird guano from the aviary. That’s the basic setup after a thorough cleaning of the yard (there’ll be smaller heaps of the above gathered together throughout the year that I’ll use to build this new heap). Then I’ll bury the vegetable peels, eggshells, etc. from the kitchen in the top layer until it is time to add another layer of horse manure, etc. finished off by what was left on top of the sieve after sifting through the oldest heap, ash (our neighbour loves to braai, so he brings the ash left over afterwards to us – we give him our branches, etc. after pruning the trees) and then a layer of soil.

So where do the rats fit in? The smaller heaps. They stay away from anything that comes from the stables, of course. But they eat whatever is still edible from the aviary – so do the wild birds. They stay out of the layered heaps: it is too moist. Dry heaps are perfect for them to nest in, but by keeping it moist (for the microorganisms), it deters the rats from overstaying their welcome. And if you really want to keep them away, planting large amounts of aromatic mint bushes in the vicinity will help. Though, large and hungry rat populations won’t be stopped by anything except hungry cats, owls, and the Pied Piper.

If the rats don’t eat it, something else will. Mainly worms and bugs. Different worms go after different things on your compost heap. Earthworms like veggies and leaves. Fat, juicy white worms go after what came out of the stables. Woodlice, larvae (from various flies) and beetles are common residents of the compost heap. And if their population gets overwhelming, well, that’s something the wild birds will take care of. (We have guinea fowl, hadedas, plovers, pigeons and many other birds frequenting our compost heap.) As the bugs and worms eat, grow and excrete, the populations of bacteria and fungi are boosted.

Then I build a new heap, layering these smaller heaps and essentially mixing the content, some never touched by the creatures you can see with the naked eye, and microscopic organisms start to do their thing.

Microorganisms are an important part of your compost heap. There’s bacteria, of course, that use various enzymes to break down organic matter by oxidising it. (This process also produces heat.) Actinomycetes, a type of bacteria close to fungi, are great at breaking down tough components like cellulose (wood!). They make filaments, looking like web-like clusters at the end of the composting process. It’s also responsible for that pleasant earthy smell of fresh-turned compost. You’ll also find fungi, moulds, and yeast in your compost heap, breaking down what the animals and bugs hadn’t before the rest of the bacteria takes over.

Turning or mixing your compost heap is important. I do it in two stages: 1) building the layered heap after the animals and bugs had worked through it, and 2) after about 3 months. Yes, my method sounds like it will take forever to get results, but I always have compost when I need it. And my heaps don’t smell.

But you can fast-track it by turning/mixing your heap once a week. It speeds up the process by adding oxygen to the mixture that helps the bacteria to do their work. And if your heap is too moist, it can help open up air pockets for the bacteria to “breathe”. It will also keep your microbes happy: you’re bringing the food to them.

As long as you are keeping your heaps fun – not making a chore you don’t want to get to – your compost can take as long as you need it to.

Once your heap stops producing heat, it’s time for it to cure. The curing stage is when actinomycetes, fungi, and worms return to the compost heap. They migrate/go dormant in the high temperatures the other bacteria had created during their breakdown process. But for your garden to reap the full benefits of nutrient-rich compost, it needs to cure first. There’s also further composting work to be done by these organisms.

Curing can take from 1 month to 1 year. The point is to have all the bacteria move on. Personally, I sift my layered heap 3 months after I had mixed it (so 6 months after it had been built). Whatever is left on top of the sieve (which always includes the web-like clusters of actinomycetes) I throw on the new heap. For the most part, there is nothing recognisable left over. Which is the point. Now it needs to cure, to make sure that when it is used 1) no bacteria is left over to compete with the plants over nitrogen in the soil, 2) all possible pathogens are dead (the heat would’ve killed it off, but time and the sun is good, too), and 3) it finally looks like dry, crumbly topsoil and has a pleasant earthy odour.

Some people argue that you shouldn’t use manure in your compost. But studies have shown that heat composting (that part where the bacteria generates loads of heat during decomposition of organic material) and curing properly leads to no adverse effects when using manure as part of your composting ingredients.

Besides, have you ever gone to vegetable farms? They use pig manure directly in the soil – no composting or curing! – and no-one has died from eating cabbage. The smell is horrible, though, when the fields are prepped. Though, if you are worried, there’s Bokashi. But that’s basically fermenting the veggies and other materials before adding it to the compost heap.

Obviously, compost is good for your vegetable and flower gardens and your trees.

  • Improves soil structure (the decomposition process continues, adding nutrients to the soil; it all sticks to the grains of sand making clay soil looser and sandy soil better at retaining moisture).
  • Adds microbes to the soil (grow healthier plants).
  • Increases water holding capacity of the soil (saves water).
  • Provides slow-release nutrients (decrease need for chemical fertilisers).

There are other benefits to composting, too. By not throwing out plant material, etc. into the rubbish, you reduce landfill waste. When it is all compacted together, the bacteria that breaks down organic material is oxygen deprived and thus don’t work. And then there’s all the methane and other greenhouse gasses that get released when the landfill is built… A well-tended compost heap at home emits no methane gas. Composting is nature’s way of recycling – feeding various animals, bugs and bacteria in the process.

In “Magic at Midnight”, there is a whole scene where Amy tends her compost heap and it is explained how it all fits together for the health of her pegasi. It was loads of fun to write!

Do you compost? Do you use compost? What are your thoughts about including environmental issues in fiction?

BETRAYAL.

CONSPIRACIES.

MAGIC.

Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court-life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?

TO WHAT LENGTHS WILL SHE GO TO SAVE HER LOVED-ONES?

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