Learning to garden (19) – Everybody makes compost in Hungary

I learnt this whilst bending over a bin of coffee grounds outside a local supermarket.  I was concentrating on preventing brown stuff blowing on to the shoes of shoppers when a man tapped me on the shoulder and told me that everybody in Hungary made compost because it is good for flowers and vegetables.

When this source of compostable material first appeared, take up seemed to be slow, but now then bin seems to empty steadily, but I doubt if everybody in that part of town makes compost.  There is a general trend towards paving over front gardens to create off-street parking.  There is some logic behind this, if required, parking permits are expensive and competition for space is a source of conflict, so using the front garden as a car park might improve the quality of life.  However, there is less space for flowers and vegetables.

At sixty two and a half, I am a recent convert to gardening.  For most of the time I’ve had space, gardening was not much more than an annual clearance so the family could get to the front door safely.  Comments like “you know you’re a software engineer if you cut the grass and find a car” are sometimes only a slight exaggeration.  I get the impression that there are fewer gardeners than there once were.

Most of our parents generation grew something, some were better at it than others and many were not enthusiasts.  This was partly because of the “dig for victory” campaign in the Second World War which gave access to food that was not available under rationing.  My father grew a modest crop of potatoes well into the 1960s and there were plants with names in the borders.  For many, jam making and bottling was part of the annual cycle, many old cookery books have a section on preserving

Gardening was mixed up with class, if, like me, you went to a secondary modern in the 1960s you might have been taught something about growing vegetables whilst the Grammar school boys learnt Latin with the expectation they could employ an Eleven Plus failure as a gardener should the need arise.  The carpentry, metalwork and gardening I learnt at school have served me well, maybe, better than Latin would have done.

Once the man from Hungary had gone, I thought of things to ask him.

PS – My neighbours recently returned from holiday to find that their grown-up children had not consumed the contents of the veg. basket, the gently rotting material was put out for the bin men who declined to remove it.  Under cover of darkness I scooped up the mess and tipped it into my composter.  My wife has asked me not to talk about this.


About SolarBucket

I trained as a mechanical engineer in the 1970's and then spent most of the following 25 years doing sums and software for Oil and Gas Exploration. Current interests are the study of wind and solar resources.
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