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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)

After Spring-Cleaning. — The Compost Heap

After Spring-Cleaning.
The Compost Heap.

This is not a dissertation on Dusters, disposal of, but on Weeds, non-wasting of. My spring-cleaning this year extended to the garden, the house, on warm days, being left severely alone. After the usual weeding, working-up of the soil and preparing of seed-beds, my eye ranged round in search of further tasks. The brown pile of lawn-clippings near the back gate occupied ground I coveted for a lettuce bed. Refuse from the corner cleared for hydrangeas was pushed back, untidily, near the hedge, where I now wanted to raise cinerarias. But what to do with the rubbish?

I asked John. John, my friend Celia's brother, is a busy and solemn young man. You get nowhere with him in ordinary conversation, but if you hint that something is wrong with the carburettor or that a board in the verandah needs replacing, he sparks up immediately. If you haven't the necessary tools, John sprints home for them, and you and he become quite friendly as he works and you admiringly watch.

Yes, John likes being asked things, so I asked him. He took a long look round and a gleam came into his eye. “What you want,” he announced firmly, “is a compost heap.”

“A compost heap? You mean a rubbish heap? But I've got those, two or three of them.”

“No. A compost heap is a means of making use of your garden refuse; kitchen refuse, too. How about those planks under the house? Do you want them? And the space by the wash-house. You won't be using that, will you?

I gave John the freedom of the garden, and went in to prepare lunch.

When I went out again he had knocked up a neat, oblong wooden frame, and, with a spade, was marking out the area it covered. Removing the frame, he proceeded to dig a neat grave by removing the sods and then the loam, down to the subsoil.

“Now, where are your rubbish heaps? Those woody hedge-clippings will have to be burnt. Put them separate. That heap of weeds, the dead leaves and the grass clippings can go in now—about six inches of them. Hey! Not that one. You pulled up that plant because it was diseased. Add that to the bonfire. Now several cans-full of water. Yes, the hose is better. The stuff will rot quicker if wet. Throw the sods on now—turn them up. Help me put the frame over. That's it. You haven't any chemical decomposer, have you? You'll want some; it's a help. Now the loam goes on”—and John patted it down and stood back to survey the job.

“And now we'll have lunch,” said I. page 59 “Here's a towel and there's the bathroom.”

In the midst of his salad John fixed me with an accusing eye. “What did you do with the outside leaves of the lettuce?”

“Rubbish-bin,” said I.

“Waste!” said John. “All your kitchen peelings can go on the compost heap. Over each new layer of refuse, garden, lawn and kitchen, sprinkle a little chemical decomposer. Remember to wet the pile—liquid manure if you like. Scatter a little lime and super-phosphate occasionally. If your heap grows too high just add another frame; some of that timber is left; or ask me, and I could add it for you.”

“Thank you, John,” said I.

I can see John mowing my lawn and weeding my garden to feed the compost heap, which he assures me will supply me with marvellous loam next spring, when he has promised to mix it up and perhaps sieve it for me. Yes, my garden in future will be swept and garnished, not to mention trowelled and raked, in the interests of refuse collection, with tidiness a close second. I most ask John about that bonfire.

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