So many times during my recent stay in the United States, gardeners asked me if I knew Maye Bruce and what she is like.
I was happy to answer then that I know her, and nothing gives me greater pleasure now than to pay tribute to this great enthusiast who is one of our pioneers in compost-making in Britain.
I remember that November when I traveled down to the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire to meet Miss Maye E. Bruce, wondering what she would be like.
And how delighted I was when the woman with the piercingly bright eyes and inviting smile, whom I had watched from my compartment window, rushed forward with hand extended to greet me!
With the enthusiasm of a woman half her age, she jumped into her car, and off we drove up the winding hillside to her house at Sapperton.
We started talking compost the moment she started the ear, we talked compost over lunch, we composted all afternoon (I even missed my 4 o’clock tea for compost), we visited all of her different trial bins, I looked at them, smelt it, turned it and dug my hands in it.
It was a bitterly cold day, and after standing in a shed sheltering from the rain where we discussed more compost, we returned to the house.
I now hoped she would put a match to the fire that was already laid in the grate, but she was so immersed in her life’s work that she completely forgot the fire, and the conversation continued, so pulling a rug around my legs, we talked, on for more hours on compost.
Such is Maye Bruce’s faith and enthusiasm that I never enjoyed a visit more, and never before have I been so inspired.
Interest In The Soil
What is all this about? Indeed we are becoming very compost minded in Britain, and it is a curious fact that it has taken a World War to revive and strengthen the human love of and intelligent interest in the soil.
In these dark days of austerity in England and our desperate shortage of food, it is well that Maye Bruce and her like have devoted so much time and money to prove to us that we shall continue to survive only if we learn to put. Hack into the soil that we take from it.
The moment you meet Maye Bruce, you are convinced of her sincerity, and such is her intense knowledge that you are held spellbound by all she has to say.
Spreading The Compost Knowledge
She is convinced that spreading the knowledge and use of compost is her life’s work, and I know she will continue living, lecturing, and working until someone or its body of people, us dynamic as herself, will carry on.
The site is thoroughly logical, and nothing convinces the public more than simple sound reasoning.
When with her direct voice, she reminds you that, “All we eat comes from the soil; meat, butter, and milk represent the vitality of the plants eaten by domestic animals; vegetables and fruit give their vitality directly to us, but if they are grown in devitalized soil, they have no vitality to give,” you know you want to hear more.
Onset Of Universal Malnutrition
Miss Bruce believes that the slow process of almost universal malnutrition has started; it goes, she says, front soil to vegetation, from vegetation to human beings.
The result is a vast increase in malnutrition diseases; despite modern amenities and the development of medical knowledge, the knowledge appears to be directed more toward cure than prevention.
She continued that the increase in bad health is not confined to man; domestic animals and the vegetable kingdom share it.
Since every year brings the tale of new pests, diseases, remedies, and insecticides, there must be a common cause for the universal symptoms. The common cause can be found in the soil.
All of this started Miss Bruce on her long search for a cure. Suppose the soil is ill (hen all living beings suffer, her remedy had to begin with the ground.
I do not propose to discuss Miss Bruce’s discoveries nor her now well-known methods of organic compost making, for these are done so much better in her book, “Common Sense Compost Making,” and pamphlets issued with her herbal activator.
Answers To Gardeners Problem
I am convinced, however, that site has the answer to the problems of most small landowners and gardeners who are up against the ever-increasing difficulty of obtaining natural humus.
Indeed, her garden is proof of her preaching, for high on the very top of the Cotswold Hills, where once the soil was shallow, stony, thin, and very hungry, there now flourishes an abundance of the most decadent-looking vegetables and the most colorful and healthy looking flowers you have ever seen.
The earth is a deep rich brown, almost appetizing in appearance. When you taste her produce at the table, you immediately notice a richness of flavor that is something entirely new.
She is tireless in her stories of the improved health of distant neighbors to whom she has supplied her garden produce, and I remember her intense excitement when at lunch that day, we saw the postman trundling up the path with a package. She ran to the door, then called the maid and shouted.
“Now we are complete, for this is compost-grown wheat, and we will make our bread.” What faith! But she believes that we are all moving toward the stage when all produce growers will use organic compost when the public demands only compost-grown vegetables and fruit for better vitality and health. I don’t mind how soon this happens!
Since the beginning of time, herbs have been used in medicine, and I was incredibly impressed by Miss Bruce’s inclusion of these simple herbs in her activator as being the chief elements needed by plant life, not only for curative reasons but to give new life also.
She is eager to explain that by radiation, their vitality streams through the compost heap, conveying their living elements to every part of it, stimulating, vitalizing, and energizing the whole pile and all that is in it. This vitality goes on into the garden and the plants that grow in it.
Logical Appeal To An Average Gardener
Of course, there are other organic compost methods, and Miss Bruce thinks there is room for them as there are so many different gardens in different circumstances. But I am dealing with Miss Bruce and her logical appeal to the average gardener.
She is a great person, and I am proud to know her. She has worked hard and long in her cause and has now handed over her methods so the world can share her knowledge.
This has been done with no thought of financial return but with the hope of helping to give back healthy life to the soil and thus eventually abolishing disease in plants, animals, and man.
This is a hope that can only be successfully fulfilled by the cooperation and personal effort of all who trust a portion – however small – of God’s earth.
44659 by Julia Clements