Thursday, 1 April 2010

Compost Queen

Friday night and the lights are low
Wond’ring if there’s time to go
Down to the allotment, need to do a bit of digging
I need to fill that bin

Anything you want to throw in?
Teabags, socks and cardboard, that last splash of gin...
Gotta lotta peelings, piled right up to the ceiling
I’m in the mood for weeds

And when I get the chance…
I am a compost queen,
Young and sweet, only forty-three

(well, give or take a year or two… I’m sure I could pass for forty-three on a dusky night with a following wind, if you weren't looking too closely…)

* * *

“If I was something in the garden, what would I be?” I made the mistake of asking my husband a couple of years ago, angling desparately for a rare compliment and hoping he would come up with something flattering along the lines of a fragrant rosebush, an exotic pot plant or a pretty spray of honeysuckle.

“A compost heap,” was his reply. “Just chuck everything on, give it a good turn now an again and Bob’s your uncle.”

I have to say I was not best pleased. Well, honestly – who would like to be compared to a large pile of rotting vegetation? Romance has never really been my other half’s strongest suit.

However, I’ve since changed my view (that’s not to say I’ve stopped sulking, though). A compost heap is actually a wonderful thing. You chuck all your grass clippings onto it, your old apple cores and potato peelings and eggboxes and banana skins – even old T-shirts, holey socks and mankey old bits of carboard box... and in the fullness of time everything is magically transformed into a wonderfully fertile, nutritious, odour-free growing medium.

It’s so easy, even I can do it. Everything that’s ever lived can go into compost – admittedly if it’s meat or dairy or if it’s been cooked like bread, you do need something called a garden digester (if you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I can point you in the direction of something small and discreet enough for any type of garden, and at a very reasonable cost…).

Yes, having completed my training, I am now officially a compost ambassador for Wiltshire, dispensing weeds and wisdom to all whether they like it or not, on the subject of composting and decomposing vegetative material.

Of course, in the olden days, they didn’t need compost heaps or digesters – there was something called the Wiltshire pig. All your peelings, leftovers, mouldy crusts, old deformed bits of veg went in one end and perfectly balanced garden fertiliser came out the other.

‘Pig’ by the incredibly talented stone carver and artist Judith Verity of Startley, who drew this in about 45 seconds

...Feel that heat, watch that steam, I'm having the time of my life (well, I don't get out much)
Oooooooh, See those peas, clock those beans, I am a Compost Queen


  1. You are truly the queen of the compost ballad! You realise I'll have that in my head all night now I've read it! The Bob Dylan lyrics revisted were addictive enough, but now I'll be rocking Abba lyrics... and with the recent suggestions that men should pee on compost heaps it brings a whole new meaning to 'Waterloo'.

  2. We have a three bin system for clippings, weeds etc and one enclosed bin for kitchen compost. I don't know how efficient this is, but it all works, eventually.
    Oh, and......congratulations, Mme Ambassadress!