The Why and the Wherefore: Muck

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Muck at Great Dixter

“You can never have enough compost,” says Joy Larkcom, queen of vegetable growing, to which I would like to add, “You can never have enough compost heaps.”

Compost Heaps

If you happen to have a big-ish garden and like to work on different areas, why not have a muck supply near each one, ditto water (should you ever need a water supply), to save endless trundling and the likelihood of not applying enough.

Growth amongst the compost

Compost heaps are really quite attractive, beautiful even. They are a mark of work-in-progress, a reminder of what you did last week (trimmed hellebore leaves) and a source of optimism for the future.

Hamlet of compost heaps at Great Dixter

Big heaps are peaceful, out-of-the-way places. In the kitchen garden at Great Dixter there is a community of compost heaps, a little hamlet, with small inroads separating the sections of muck. They almost look like primitive homes. These heaps are added to and are taken away from all of the time, summer or winter, and the kitchen garden is all around.

Compost Heaps by the Nursery

The other community of heaps is by the nursery, on the other side of the garden, and it not only looks rather lovely, with a ladder tempting one to climb to the top and look around but if you place yourself downwind, the heaps smell nice too. They really do.

Fire Heaps at Great Dixter

Fire heaps, being disturbed less often, are very tempting to for wild life. Mammals hibernate in them; snakes lay their eggs in them. It's a risky lifestyle choice however for any animal and it is heartening to see that more and more large gardens, which are there to share, not just to show off,  have become host to wildlife stacks and insect hotels so that animals have somewhere to go, even in a highly maintained environment.

They also tend to be slightly out of the way, but like a beautiful compost heap they are worth seeking out and if it wasn't counter-productive, they would be on proud display in the centre of things. Like everything at Dixter, the insect lodgings and wilder areas are as appealing as the clipped peacock topiary.

Great Dixter Gardens

Thanks for reading!


PS. Read Sarah's article on composting 'How to Make Your Own Black Gold'