I get very excited by compost, by the whole process of change from one form to another. Until last week I had two fairly large compost bays but then I watched the hour long Gardener’s World on Friday; consequently I now have a third bay and spent a good couple of hours turning and transferring the material in one of the existing bays into the new bay.
Monty has three bays at Long Meadow and a very systematic method for the production of compost. He has a detailed understanding of what goes on during the composting process (unsurprising given that he is president of the Soil Association) and how to ensure that you don’t get slimey, smelly, rat infested compost (I did discover voles in the second bay but thought best to let them be for now). It was interesting, for example, to discover that one should be adding plenty of carbon to the mix, such as cardboard and hay, and not just green stuff. His insistence on making sure everything was well shredded struck chord as I discovered a lot of canes and woody material in the compost that hadn’t even begun to break down. I chopped them all up into small pieces so hopefully they’ll now compost without difficulty.
The composted material nearest to the camera is almost ready for use but not quite; it isn’t yet that lovely crumbly texture and doesn’t have that woodland floor smell, as Monty put it. Still, I am looking forward to using it and now that there is a third bay, there will be even more of the lovely stuff.
Monty was at the top of a ladder, pruning saw in one had and a wrinkled apple in the other. He was gazing at the apple with an excitement and pleasure that was palpable, one of those moments when television reaches out beyond the limits of its medium. The apple (Jupiter variety) was taken last year from the very tree he was pruning; in his hand he held not simply an apple but something symbolic, a measure of the enjoyment of growing and relishing one’s own fruit.
It is this sense of gentle and embracing wonder, pleasure and enthusiasm that Monty is able to bring to the screen (Carol Klein does exactly the same thing and couldn’t seem to keep still for being so enraptured by the garden at Angelsey Abbey) that make his return to Gardeners’ World so welcome.
There is something very soothing about Monty Don and as he walked us around his garden, and explained the various parts, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction. My only criticism: the length of the first episode. Surely the BBC could have made this a one hour introduction so that we were able to see a little more of Long Meadow, to listen to Monty’s warming tone, and to hear of his plans for the garden for the coming year? Perhaps squeezing in Rachel de Thame and Joe Swift was over-egging the pudding, and we don’t want to end up with a chunk of GW effectively given over to short editions of Ground Force!
That said, however, I am pleased to say that once again Friday night at 8.30pm is Gardeners’ World time.