a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Help for small gardeners


I take my composting seriously (sad but true).  So I decided to buy myself a pre-Christmas present in December and was excited when the box arrived a few days later.

I had coveted this strange item ever since I had “had a go” with it in a natural gardening open day.

To make good compost rapidly I have been told the compost needs to be mixed frequently and I have seen videos of large compost heaps being attacked vigorously with garden forks.

I do not have sufficient strength to dig into piles of vegetable matter and in addition we keep our compost in wooden containers to keep it tidy and to conserve the warmth of decomposition.  You would need to be tall to be able to fork through these compost boxes or be happy to demantle them every few days, which is not an easy job.

I do not usually feature the composting site on the blog, for obvious reasons.  I’ve had to leave the tops open as once I had used my Brass compost mixer (for those interested in etymology, brasser means to mix or toss in French), I noticed that the mixture was quite dry in parts.

In short, I am delighted with it.  I can burrow into my compost heap creating tunnels leading to the bottom layers and distributing the extracted cores on the top and sides.  This is a video of the inventor showing how it works.

The mixer is produced by the ESAT de l’ODET near Quimper which is run by the Association for the paralysed in France (l’Association des Paralysés de France).

I think all I have to do now is put on the top and wait for some warmer weather to speed up the composting – and of course, keep turning it with my new brass compost every few days.


Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

19 thoughts on “Help for small gardeners

  1. Hi, What a neat tool. I am a bit fanatical when it comes to composting. I have five bins on the go. I do not have enough brown from my small garden so in the Fall take to raking up leaves from outside a large apartment complex that has small leaf maples along the roadway. With those I fill a huge wire basket created and pegged into the soil. I use it to layer my compost, top dress the vegetable and espalier beds etc. I also bring up dried seaweed from in front of my house and in the spring collect crab shells that the crabs have shed (no crabs harmed in the making ) and crush them into a powder. On occasion a horse will walk by my front gate and leave a gift for me in the form of fresh manure that I stir into the newest compost bin. I also ask the coffee shop for their grinds and filters.
    Yesterday I picked up ten bags of well rotted manure from an organic cattle farm. ….. I think you can guess what I really enjoy receiving for my birthday…. yes, a load of mushroom manure or similar.

    So hurrah for any tool that will make it easier!
    Thanks for posting, always enjoy reading and seeing what you are up to …. particularly about your bees.
    Regards Janine
    South of Vancouver BC Canada
    Actually 11C today. … but so wet!


    • You are a serious composter! Your soil must be great. I don’t have a good access to any quantity of seaweed, perhaps I should look harder as we are not far from the sea. Luckily we have a friend with a horse but I usually keep that separate for a year as it is too much for the boxes at one time. I think perhaps it is not having access to sources of compost that is important, it is using more imagination as you have done. Amelia


  2. There is nothing better than compost for a garden, and when I found new clients as a professional gardener a compost bin in the yard told me they were serious and knew something about gardening.


  3. My mother has not need for such tools. She has grandchildren.


  4. Clever idea; do let us know how well it works.


  5. What a good idea. Can you post a link to the company. I want to buy one straight away!


  6. Watching the video it looks a lot easier to use than some of the compost augers that are on the market. I wonder when it will be marketed in the UK?


    • Amazon France markets it over here through an intermediary company. As you saw in the video, it was a private invention and so has no marketing team behind it. By the way, I have now discovered what I possess is a compost auger. I love new words. I’ll try it on Kourosh first. “Pass me my compost auger, dear.” 🙂 Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Very helpful ! We use for a long time now…
    It’s for sale in garden center and supermarket in Brittany.


  8. We were put off composting when rats colonised our compost bin but we have recently restarted, with some trepidation!


    • I think it could be down to bad luck. I visited an ecological garden near Cognac that composted (among other things) all the waste including food waste from a hotel with a restaurant. I was a bit shocked but I was assured that they never had problems with vermin. The compost generates warmth and makes a tempting nesting place. Make sure you turn your new bin. Amelia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s