Compost is Black Gold Dirt but Hole-y Moly!

Writer  /  Nancy Craig

After this very wet summer, our yard and gardens looked like a minefield of mole runs and “volcano” mounds. Needless to say, my husband did not appreciate the damage to his lawn, and I did not like the way the moles uprooted some of my flowers. So it is ironic that the book I selected to teach my great–nieces and nephews about the importance of soil and composting had a mole as the protagonist.

The author of the book “Jump into Science: Dirt” is Steve “The Dirtmeister” Tomecek who has written several “Jump into Science” books for National Geographic. Nancy Woodman illustrated “Dirt,” and she made the mole a hero of the underground.

Now I have to admit that the mole does some good like aerating the soil and eating insects, but how can something so tiny make such a mess above ground? For advice on controlling moles, check out Purdue University’s article “Sometimes Molehills Seem Like Mountains” at

Tomecek defines dirt and why soil is important: “Scientists call dirt ‘soil.’ Soil is found on the surface of Earth. Soil is as important to life on Earth as air or water. Without it, many living things would die.”

You can take good dirt for granted until you try to plant anything at a new house removed of its good soil or if you are trying to garden in soil that’s contaminated or naturally contains too much sand or clay. One way to improve your soil and add nutrients to help your plants grow is to make your own dirt or to compost.

Fall is the perfect time to start composting and a great way to recycle those leaves! My great-nephews Max and Eli will have their dad (my nephew, Donald) mow over the leaves, and then the boys can scatter them over their garden plot. The cut-up leaves will decompose and improve the garden soil.

There are several ways to compost, and next spring, my great-nieces, Lindsey and Lauren, will try the “compost pockets” method described in this article: This article also explains about “green stuff” like kitchen vegetable scraps and “brown stuff” like leaves which are used in composting.

The compost becomes “black gold” dirt and is a natural, organic way to make your vegetables and flowers grow. Now if we could just convince the moles to find a new home!

Addendum: We hired the professional mole trapper that our neighbors recommended, and the trapper caught two moles the first day! The trapper charged per mole killed but was not as expensive as noted in the Purdue article.

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