Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Attached are some pages from an old gardening book Tash found for me.

I'll add the printed date tomorrow, if you'd like to, click on each picture and have a read (especially about bacteria in soil and nitrogen cycle, starts on page 29) and take a guess when it was written.

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Comment by Dave Riley on March 5, 2017 at 20:06

I don't own the book but was looking for an online copy...without success.

I think the take home point is that the agricultural experiments of the late 19th and into the late 30s of the 20th century -- were embraced before the nitrogen addiction/dependency  kicked in.


Increase in fertiliser use since the invention of the Haber-Bosch process.

The current organic movement merely rediscovered them or drew on the experience of movements like allotments.No one has really re-invented the tradition.

Comment by Rob Collings on March 5, 2017 at 16:44

Before I checked the date, I was thinking 50s or 60s.
Thanks for the heads up on Maye Bruce Elaine, looks like she knew her stuff very early on.

The author's defence on artificial manures (name change since), reflect the rhetoric we hear about the same and parallel subjects to this day. "The old idea that the artificial manures  acted as a whip or scourge to the soil, that after the application of artificial manures the soil was left poorer than it was before , is a fallacy."

.... And after all that earlier good writing the guy did on soil.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 5, 2017 at 14:18

There was a doughty old lady - Miss Bruce (no one called her by her first name, Maye) who developed a composting system based on Biodynamics - used the preps but in their raw form, not the potentised ones used by BD. Around 1935 - there's been an updated book published about her system and subsequent developments. Quick Return Compost Making by Andrew E Davenport. Sir Albert Howard from the Soil Association was active around a similar time to Maye Bruce. Anyway, the point being that from the 20s on there was a lot of basic research done on what has become organic gardening.

If you Google search on Maye Bruce and Quick Return Compost, you can find the text of her work on the subject. Maye Bruce 1879-1964.

Comment by Lissa on March 5, 2017 at 13:03

Do you own the book Dave?

Comment by Dave Riley on March 5, 2017 at 10:19

William Good: 1922 (?) -- London : Gresham Publishing Co. Ltd

Comment by Christa on March 5, 2017 at 9:02

This would be excellent reading, and having read somewhere that there were about 1,400,000 allotments in the UK, taking up about 200,000 acres.  I would guess this was in a time just after the first world war.  There would have been a need for this book around that time as gardeners would have been quite amateurish??   The author was obviously in the know when it came to soil life etc.

We are still learning now from our errors of the past. 

Comment by Lissa on March 5, 2017 at 5:15

I particularly like the simple to understand process on page 30 about the different bacteria and how they work together.

One thing I don't agree with is keeping the soil "aerated by cultivation" ie turning it over. I let the worms do this.

Comment by Lissa on March 5, 2017 at 5:08

I was thinking about 1930/40. Allotments are an English thing.

Just goes to show, the information has been around for a long time. No one has reinvented the wheel.

I've just been reading how one of those bacteria causes lock jaw. I am one of those careless gardeners that never wears gloves and doesn't bother with first aid for cuts until I've finished the job but it's actually a serious matter. I'd probably be dead by now in the "good old days".

That's a good book. Very sensible advice.

Comment by GayleD on March 5, 2017 at 0:16

Book construction and typeface suggests tht Elaine is closer to the mark. Using the first frosts to break up your soil?  UK?

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 4, 2017 at 22:05

I guessed early 1970s - Jeff Lawson kinda times. 

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