How To: Get Down and Dirty Together, Creating Community Soil

‘Bigger, better food is waiting in your compost heap.’

givernyI recently caught up with a delightful man and a horticultural expert, Phil Gamble.

Trained at Cannington College, Somerset in it’s heyday, Philip’s background includes two posts as Head Gardener and ten years on the lecturing staff at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester. He’s an established freelance lecturer and popular speaker, he’s an experienced garden guide, practical demonstrator and photographer.

He’s busy with designs for two clients at the moment in between his programme of illustrated talks, short courses and garden days.

Next year sees Philip’s first stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and a series of new history based events with Paul Atterbury of The Antiques Road Show.

Phil has put down his trowel for a moment and has penned a few words for today’s posting on what he likes to call a ‘compost outing’!

Not being allowed to end a course is my favourite accolade to date. A four-week course I started some time back has been running now for two and a half years, with no apparent signs of stopping any time soon.

Course members share the work in each other’s gardens and make delicious coffee and cakes too; they even let their green-fingered expert have some too.

Today, I thought I’d share with your readers a way to grow in your garden and grow new friendships too. I’ve chosen the topic of compost for this posting, as it’s so very important to all of our gardens.

We all welcome a little help sometimes with the bigger jobs in the garden and the more compost we can make the better. It does so much good to the soil and your plants will love you for it.

A “Compost Outing” is the perfect opportunity to invite all your friends round to get your compost out! The idea being that everyone goes to another garden next week to return the favour and so on.

By hosting a Compost Outing you can enjoy the sight of all your friends having an absolute scream digging and wheeling your compost all over your garden while you stir the soup and bake some ‘Tracey Smith Bread’; (not literally you understand – she teaches bread-making at the same place I teach a horticultural course!).

On a Compost Outing you only need one rule – no wellies on the furniture!

Simply suggest the idea of the event to friends in passing. The day will create itself through sheer overpowering common sense and the obvious potential for fun. Just ask everyone to bring some tools and a few good strong wheelbarrows.

There’s no time like the present for a Compost Outing.

Oh yes and do try to book a date during a nice dry spell; there’s less mud on the kids!

To launch the idea locally just swap a Compost Outing event with your best gardening friend so everyone can see how it works. Everybody will want it to be their turn next!

The invitations will start rolling in but for heavens sake keep a note of The Book of Rubbish Ideas blog handy, so you’ve got a few recipes for yummy grub for when they all pile in, famished from making all that free soil for you.

A fair trade? I’ll say!

This is a zero-cost event and with all the talk of the depressing credit crunch, there couldn’t be a better time to discover the benefits of compost in the community.

Everyone offering a Compost Outing in his or her own garden provides a bit of basic nosh and refreshments; you’d best keep the homemade wine for later. At the next Outing the hospitality is returned.

It’s a balanced barter with no cash involved.

You never know, your workforce might even get stuck in and help with those other jobs you’ve been putting off. Everything seems far less daunting with many hands and lots of good ideas.

Fantastic – thank you Phil…and to wrap it all up, here are a few of his favourite quotes!

Waste is not something you have; it’s something you do.

As we all know now there’s no such thing as rubbish, just resources used in other ways.

The most priceless thing you can make – apart from love – is soil.

Compost can actually make new soil and improve the soil you’ve got. So, remember; the answer doesn’t lie in the soil it IS the soil.

Questions, comments and contributions are all welcome at and in our comments box below!

Rubbishly yours,

TS x