In praise of the Envirocycle Composter-Update

UPDATE- The universe has semi-answered my prayers. I must thank friend and sometimes reader of the blog Shawn for giving me his unused rotating composter. It sits next to the composter I bought. It’s sturdy and I look forward to turning it into a turny worm paradise.

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Sometimes you never know what you had until it is long gone and you can never get it back. That is how I feel about my-no-longer-mine Envirocycle composter.

Taking another break from the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, again. Face it, it’s long and tedious. Also rewarding. Anyway..

When I first moved to Truxton Circle, a co-worker (now department head) gave me his composter. He and his partner had no use for it. They lived a couple of miles where I live now in the Maryland suburbs. He was nice enough to throw it in the back of his truck and deliver it to my Truxton Circle home.

I dumped my old plants in it. I dumped some cherry tomatoes from a house warming party in it. That resulted in having accidental cherry tomatoes growing in the front yard. I put shredded paper from shredded documents in it.

I took earthworms found on the concrete patio in it. At another point I bought some earthworms in the mail and put them in. This resulted in the great worm escape on an unusually hot day where worms were oozing out of the slits en masse. It was a sight.

I used the compost tea and the compost for my container garden. I also donated compost for one of the sidewalk trees Brian and crew placed on 4th St. It was a lovely thing to have.

Did it stink? On occasion, when I failed to balance the ‘greens’ and the ‘browns’. The greens were the romaine lettuce butts, egg shells, whole avocados gone bad, remaining parts of avocados gone good, and all the raw veggies that were composting in the refrigerator. I’ll also include tea bags, loose tea, and lots of coffee grounds from nearby coffee shops, when the neighborhood starting having coffee shops.

The browns were the shredded papers, dryer lint, and maybe the odd batch of leaves.

I took it for granted.

When we decided to sell our Truxton Circle home I had to find a new home for the composter. By this time, 19 years had passed and around year 17-18 some urban wildlife tore a hole in the side.

I suspect it was the big bag of fruit I threw in there.

I put the composter on Freecycle, with pics of the hole, and a fellow with a pick up truck picked it up and took it away.

Fast forward 1 year.

I was in my new suburban home and getting tired of putting food scraps down the garbage disposal drain or in the trash. The place where we moved has a composting program, however, I wanted to get back into gardening, and I want my own compost, where I know what’s in the compost.

So I went looking for a new Envirocycle and holy heck those suckers are $500! I could buy similar tumbling composters and I really don’t need the feature that made it great for my urban back patio, the system that captured the compost tea and kept it from staining the concrete.  But I really like the door for the composter. I like that all I had to do was turn the composter, no lever or having (but I did) to go in and turn the compost myself.

I don’t really like the new style of Envirocycle. The old model had several little slits, and this new one just has a vent at the top. I guess that would prevent the hole problem I experienced.

Since I’m not paying $500, I bought a $80 stationary composter. It’s eh. I’m just happy I’m not throwing perfectly good scraps away. I might break down and buy a tumbler. I just don’t see one that I like for a price that makes sense to me.

I miss my old Envirocycle. I guess you really can’t appreciate what you had until it is gone.


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Ernest Hawkins- 38 N St NW-Double vision

Looking at the 1920 census for another Black home owner, I came across Ernest Hawkins, who is listed as “Hawkens”. He lived at 38 N St NW in Washington, DC with his wife Sarah and daughter Ernestine.

photo of property

When I do these histories I look at genealogical sites and of course the land records. The land records don’t show much activity, but do provide useful death dates in this case. One interesting thing I should mention is that this family appears twice in the 1910 census.

Ernest F. Hawkins was born in 1872 or thereabouts, in Washington, DC. He married Sarah Walker in March 1894 in Fredericksberg, VA. Their daughter Ernestine was born later that same year in December. In the 1900 census, Ernest is listed as working as a coachman for a livery. The family were renters in a 2 unit property at 1720 5th St NW.

I’m not sure what was going on in 1910. In one, 38 year old Ernest F. Hawkins, 37 year old Sarah W. Hawkins and their 15 year old daughter Ernestine are living in Keyport, NJ. They lived on 3rd St where Ernest was a laborer at a brickyard and they had been married 16 years. That enumeration took place April 27, 1910. The other appearance in the 1910 census was at 53 P St NW, where 36 year old Ernest and Sarah Hawkins lived with their 14 year old daughter Ernestine and 11 year old son Henry Hawkins. Ernest worked as a laborer for the Treasury and the couple had been married 16 years. This enumeration took place on April 19, 1910. They aren’t an exact match but the closeness makes me think they were counted twice.

So when we find the family firmly in Truxton Circle as home owners, Ernest is listed as a 47 year old messenger who works for the government. Sarah is also working for the government as a matron and Ernestine is a Maryland teacher.

As I mentioned earlier, the land records don’t show much activity, just death. The first two are 1953 deeds transferring the property from Ernest and Sarah to Ernestine though a go-between, Zeph P. Moore. The first deed mentioned that Ernest died March 21, 1927 and Sarah W. Hawkins died May 23, 1951. The nest document is a 1970 deed mentioning the death of daughter Ernestine Hawkins-Smith on February 27, 1967. The property was left to Charles R. Walker, who sold it to Charles F. Adams and Clinton W. Chapman There is no mention of how Charles R. Walker is related but I gather he is some relative from Sarah’s side of the family.