A Compost Blether
Gather together a hundred gardeners
and ask the question: what's the best method of constructing a compost heap? -
and you'll receive a hundred different answers with a few strong words thrown in
for good measure. Folk can be so possessive of their 'expert' knowledge, can
they not? You'll certainly get a heated debate, anyway, with much colourful
"rabbit and pork" (slang for 'talk' apparently) thrown in for good measure.
I once made the mistake of engaging in a 'compost heap' debate myself. Never
again. The other guy, a man called Bill, for there was only two of us left in
the room by the time we'd really got stuck into the topic - the others having
beaten a hasty retreat - wouldn't talk to me for months afterwards and even now
regards me as some sort of subversive element who's in the habit of routinely
undermining other people's tried and tested methods. But then
gardening does that to people sometimes, doesn't it, just like any other human
preoccupation, when 'Expert' meets 'Expert' and neither is prepared to give an
"What I do is pee on it," one 'expert' might proclaim, whilst shoving his nose
conspiratorially into your ear, "adds just the right amount of nitrogen and
potash. Good for the vegetables, especially the cabbages."
"Human hair is water retentive," another might bellow (a local barber of the
district told me this once) "sow seed tatties on human hair, a tried and tested
Well, what can you say to that?
Personally I tend to grunt when confronted by any type of 'expert' these days, a
drawn out murmuring sort of grunt. This usually does the trick. Approving yet
neutral. Better that, of course, than respond in a less charitable manner with
something along the lines of: "Take your nose out of my ear, you pompous
windbag!" Yes, much safer in the long run.
But what happens to the compost heap once it's started? If - like me - you lack
the time and dogged persistence, then it quickly becomes a breeding ground for
the most intriguing collection of weeds, thistles and woody-stalked vegetation
that requires vigorous strimming to tidy the whole mess up. Either that, or
you're left with an untidy eyesore. You could call it a 'wildlife garden' and
leave well alone of course, that is if you can live with such a notion; or you
could strim it and then explain it away as yet another giant mole hill to add to
the already growing number of giant mole hills at the bottom of the garden
(simply another piece of lumpy grass to cut on a regular basis).
Compost bins, of course, are the 'thing' of the moment just now: plastic
containers (inverted conical shapes resembling wheelie bins without wheels) and
bottomless. Cast an eye around next time you're out and about and see if you can
spot any with weeds, thistles and woody-stalked vegetation exploding out of
them. You might do. You just might do.
Despite all this, however, I may try one myself, see how I get on. But could I
really pass it off as a giant mole hill if it was neglected through no fault of
my own? I doubt it.
Now there's a sobering thought.
(Copyright: Patrick Vickery)
Tomato Blether - January, 2002
Tree Blether - February, 2002
Hare Blether - March, 2002
A Surreal Blether - April, 2002
Slug Blether - May, 2002
Goat Blether - June, 2002
A Half-Man, Half-Garden Blether - July, 2002
A Blaze Blether - August, 2002
An Inanimate Object Blether - September, 2002
A Notable Quotable Blether - October, 2002
A Plant Blether - November, 2002
A Copper Beech Blether (or a chainsaw pruning!) - January,
A Heron Blether - February, 2003
A Bergenia Blether - March, 2003
A Rose Blether - April, 2003
A Critter Blether - August, 2003
Patrick Vickery is a garden
writer who lives in the Scottish Highlands. He runs a small perennial
plant nursery and has one book published to date: 'In Pursuit Of Perennial
Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden' (Capall Bann Publishers.
ISBN: 186163 1480), a 'How To' book about the propagation of hardy perennial
plants in an environmentally friendly way, and how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways for both expert and
gardening enthusiasts alike - at minimum cost and in an innovative and exciting
way. And - of course - how to sell the plants you grow (should you wish to) to
raise money (not a fortune) for yourself or a particular charity or cause.
Patrick is married with
three children, lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world, uses
a raised bed system of propagation and has two dogs, a cat and two goats. His
second book - 'Gardening Tales - Blethers and Grunts' - a collection of anecdotal tales concentrating
on the more humorous side of gardening (particularly the things that go wrong!)
has recently been completed.
Patrick's book can be
bought from an absolutely fascinating website full of gardening, herbal,
mystical, and magical books that one would never find anywhere else. The
address is www.capallbann.co.uk.