1. Table 1. Building the Garden Heap
-- Table 2. Building the Straw Heap
-- Table 3. Manure Tubs
-- Table 4. Leaf Heap
-- Table of Failures, Causes and Remedies
2. Formulae for Herbal Powder
3. Directions for Treating the Heap
4. Price of Powder Activator
5. Herbs -- and Where to Find Them
6. Alternative Plants and their Constituents
7. Some Useful Hints
8. Plan for a Small Bin
9. Plan for a Movable Bin


Table 1. Building the Garden Heap
Foundation Good Drainage
Bin Wood, if possible, or bricks, or turves, grass down
Air Essential: spaces between boards, or holes in sides of bin
Size From 18 in. x 18 in. x 2 ft. high to 6 ft. x 6 ft. x 3 ft. high
Time of building Up to two months
Method In 4 in. layers, kept flat: alternate tough stems with soft green
Materials All vegetable waste 4 in.: a dusting of lime, three times. A few spadefuls of soil. An occasional 2 in. of manure. A final cover of 4 in. soil
Protection Keep a sack on last layer ALWAYS
Shelter Tilted corrugated iron sheet, or a stretched canvas cover, against rain
Treatment Inject activator when heap is full and firm: 1 pint per 6 ft. area

Table 2. Building the Straw Heap
Size 6 ft. wide x 8 ft. long x 6 ft. high, in sections
Layers 4 in. wet straw, 2 in. green matter or 2 in. manure, or a scatter of soil
Method Build in open, like a rick, with straight sides, ridged top
Shape Long clamp; build in sections
Cover Soil
Treatment Activator: 1 pint per 6 ft. area

Table 3. Manure Tubs
Sink tub to within 6 in. of its rim Sink tub
Fill with fresh manure Fill with old cow-pats
Treat 3 oz. activator Treat 3 oz. activator
Cover with lid Cover with lid

Table 4. Leaf Heap
Stack in wire enclosure
Scatter soil every foot
Turn out in six months
Treat with activator -- 1 pint per 6 ft. area

Table of Failures, Causes and Remedies

After ten years of constant work there has not been one failure in this garden. A few have been reported, and invariably one of the following causes has been traced:
  1. Loss of heat.
  2. No aeration.
  3. Misuse of activator.
  4. Opening the heap before ripe.
1. Loss of heat 1. No sacking laid on top layer Dried out (a)
2. No shelter Rain drenched heap (b)
2. No aeration 1. No air spaces in walls of bin Putrefaction (b)
2. Too heavy treading caused tight packing Putrefaction (b)
3. Misuse of activator 1. Not used Heap not disintegrated (c)
2. Kept over a year
4. Opening before ripe Opening by a fixed date Not yet decomposed (d)
(a) Pour one gallon manure or compost water over it.
(b) Fork into piles, let sun and air get to it, then wet with manure water.
(c) Remake with fresh green layers and treat.
(d) Wait -- a week or more.

2. Formulae for Herbal Powder

1. Wild Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)
2. Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
3. Common Valerian (Yaleriana officinalis)
4. Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)
5. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
6. Oak bark (Quercus robur)
7. Pure Honey


Gather flowers and leaves before mid-day. Dry as soon as possible with slow heat, i.e. on hot water pipes or under a raised stove. When tinder-dry crush and pass the herbs through a fine wire sieve (a kitchen sieve) or a bag of book muslin. Keep each of the herbs separate.

Oak bark: Use the outside rough bark, grind or rasp it to a powder, pass it through the sieve.

Honey: Rub one drop of honey into one dram of sugar of milk till the honey is completely absorbed. (Sugar of milk is a pure product used to feed babies, obtainable at any chemist's or chain stores.)

For Stock Mixture

Take equal parts (say a level teaspoonful) of each of the ingredients, mix them thoroughly, keep them in a covered jar.

For Use

Stir again to ensure an even mixture, and liquefy as follows:

To Liquefy: Mix as much of the powder as will cover a sixpence, or one cent piece (approx. one grain) with one pint (20 oz.) rain-water. Shake well. Let it stand for twenty-four hours before using. It will keep good for about three weeks. Shake thoroughly before use.

Note: The two essential ingredients are yarrow and nettle. The others are used because of their prophylactic qualities; if unobtainable, any one of them may be omitted.

3. Directions for Treating the Heap

(Size of heap up to 6 ft. square)

Make holes with a crowbar to within six inches of the bottom of the heap, and twelve inches to twenty-four inches apart.

Pour three ounces of the solution into each hole. Fill up the holes with dry sifted soil, and ram it down to prevent air pockets. Insert the solution as soon as possible after the heap is finished.

Important: Always shake the bottle well before use.

A convenient way of carrying the solution is in a one-pint beer bottle (20 oz.).

Dose for Manure Tub, 3 oz. of Solution

Please note, that the method is very elastic, and allows much latitude every way: exact measurements and exact doses are not essential, and the amounts must be fitted in to the size of the heaps.

    An 18 in. square area would take three holes.
    A 4 ft. x 3 ft. area, would take five holes.
    A 6 ft. x 6 ft. area, would take seven holes.

4. Price of Powder Activator

For those who cannot make their own activator, the powder is available at the following prices:

For: 2 heaps, 1s., 4 heaps 2s., 6 heaps 3s, 8 heaps 4s. and so on. It is sent out in multiples of two.

It is made fresh every autumn. This is important (see Chapter 2).

The powder can be had from:

    Miss Bruce,
    Cirencester, Glos.

who will be delighted to answer any questions or help in any way.


Q.R. Compost Activator is still being made in England by Chase Organics and can be ordered online.

Available from:
Chase Organics (G.B.) Ltd. -- The Organic Gardening Catalogue

See: QR COMPOST ACTIVATOR, large, medium or small:

5. Herbs -- and Where to Find Them

Wild Chamomile
Flower A delicate daisy with a protruding yellow cone. This cone is hollow inside like a horn. This is an important distinguishing mark; in all the other species the cone is fleshy
Height From one to two feet. Branched in growth
Leaves Bright green, delicate, fern-like
Grows In cornfields, roadsides, rough fields: will grow easily by seed in light soil
Season June to September
Common Dandelion
Flower Bright yellow, large many-petalled daisy
Leaves Flat, long-toothed, deep green
Flower Stems Bare, hollow, with milky juice
Grows Everywhere. A very common weed
Season From April to September
Common Valerian
Flower Pale mauve, small, grow in a many-flowered flattened cluster
Height From one to four feet, branched stem
Leaves In pairs up the stem; they are united at the base, and are cut in segments opposite each other. The root leaves grow singly, but are cut in segments
Grows On damp banks, hillsides, and in ditches
Season June to August
Common Yarrow
Flower Flat heads of daisy-like flowers, white or pale pink
Height From one to two feet, branched stem
Leaves Finely dissected, alternately arranged on stem
Grows On waysides, fields, dry banks: very common
Stinging Nettle (this must not be confused with the dead-nettle family, Labiatae)
Flower Green, hanging in clusters from the axle of the leaves
Height From two to five feet
Leaves Heart-shaped, toothed, dark green. The whole plant is covered with stiff hairs, that sting when touched
Grows On waste ground, roadside, in hedges, everywhere

6. Alternative Plants and their Constituents

Hollyhock (Althea Rosea)
Iron, Soda, Potash, Phosphorus, Lime, Sulphur

Walnut (Juglans Nigra)
Iron, Phosphorus, Potash, Sulphur

Strawberry (Fragaria Vesca)
Lime, Soda, Phosphorus

Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus)
Iron, Sulphur

Marigold (Calendula Officinalis)
Lime, Sulphur

Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Potash, Lime, Soda

Elder (Sambucus Nigra)
Iron Potash Soda

Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)
Iron, Potash, Lime, Soda

7. Some Useful Hints

To increase heat:
Bruise and wet some nettles, put a layer in the heap.

To clean Fruit Trees:
Take two handfuls of dried horsetail (Equisetum Arvense) and simmer in a gallon of water for twenty minutes. Use one pint in one gallon water and spray, and in bad cases scrub your fruit trees. It is a wonderful cleanser. Strain and bottle any liquid left over.

To kill American Blight:
Use the horsetail liquid at full strength, dab or brush it on to the colonies.

To kill Aphis:
Dry and powder bracken leaves. Soak one dram (weight) in six ounces of water. Let it stand for twenty-four hours, strain and bottle. Use one dram in one gallon rain-water. It should tinge the water green. Spray, or better still, wash the leaves attacked by aphis.

8. Plan for a Small Bin

Bigger image

9. Plan for a Movable Bin

Bigger image

Method of Erection

The posts can be permanent if desired. The sides are made light and easily moved and fixed. The first heap can be completed in section 1 and the other sections added on as required. Note that of the 4 ft. 1-1/2 in. between the posts, 1-1/2 in. is to allow space for the hook and eye or staple fastening.

The movable bin has been designed to meet the need of a bin which is easy to erect, and dismember, and moreover which is light, efficient, and capable of infinite expansion. It would be useful in outlying places, in farms or gardens.

The general layout is a series of square sections, with light movable sides which are hooked on to four equidistant corner posts. Each section is independent but additional ones can be added to any length required, i.e. a 4 ft. section could be expanded to 4 ft by 8 ft., 1,2 ft., 16 ft., and so on. The corner posts could be permanent if desired. They are firmly driven into the earth; the back ones are 4 ft. and the front ones 3 ft. above ground. This allows for the slope of the protecting cover. The sides are light panels made of 1/2 in. boards 1 ft. wide nailed at each end to two upright spars, 1-1/2 in. square and 3ft. 4 in. in height. There should be a 1 in. space between the boards for aeration. They should not be less than 2 ft. nor more than 4 ft. long.

Note. A space of three quarters of an inch should be allowed each side between the panels and the stationary posts to allow for the fastenings.

The fastenings are strong, screw-in hooks and eyes. Two hooks on each side of the panel at top and bottom. The corresponding eyes in the stationary posts.

The sides can very easily be dropped into place and with the two fastenings remain rigid. For full details see plan, above.


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