Maye Bruce's Compost Preparation

Veronika Bond Humus

photo: Nathan Dumlao

“Humus and humus again should be given to the soil in every conceivable form.”Rudolf Steiner

Nearly 100 years ago, Maye Bruce, a gardener and founder member of the Soil Association in England,  began to experiment with the plant preparations recommended by Rudolf Steiner for biodynamic agriculture. Because the biodynamic preparations were difficult to make for many gardeners, incuding herself, she developed her own recipe.

The result is a homoeopathic preparation. It stimulates the decomposition process, so that a compost pile can transform into ’sweet smelling humus’ within 4 weeks without turning the pile!

(The speed of transformation depends on the season. The decomposition is fastest in early summer.)

Here is a summary of Maye Bruce’s ‘Quick Return Compost Activator’

Ingredients of the Preparation

  1.  Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) — May – September
  2.  Dandelion (Leontodum Taraxacum) — March – September
  3.  Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis) — June – August
  4.  Yarrow (Acchillea Millefolium) — June – September
  5.  Nettle (Urtica Dioica) — March – September
  6.  Oak (Quercus Ruber)
  7.  Honey

(the months indicate when the flowers can be found in the wild in England)

The Essences

From the plants 1–4 gather fresh blossoms before noon. Moisten the blossoms with rain water. Pound in a mortar. Wrap in muslin and press out the juice. Allow the sediment to settle, pass through filter paper until the liquid is clear and decant into a bottle.

From the stinging nettle the whole plant is used without the roots. Extract the juice in the same way as the blossoms.

Keep each of the extracts separate!

From a mature oak tree gather a small amount of outer rough bark. Grind the bark to a powder and pass through a sieve. Steep one dessertspoonful of the powder in 2 oz (56 ml) of rain water, stir well, leave for 24 hours, strain and bottle.

These 6 essences are stored separately in dark glass bottles in a dark, cool place.

Pure runny honey is used as the 7th essence to make the ’stock solution’.

The Stock Solution

Mix one drop of each plant essence with 1 ounce (28 ml) of rainwater.

Mix one drop of honey with 1 ounce (28 ml) of rainwater.

Shake both mixtures well and store in a cool place.

The Compost Solution

Take 1 teaspoon of each stock solution and mix them with 1 pint (approx. half a litre) rain water. This quantity is sufficient for 1 cubic meter of compost.

Shake well and leave for 24 hours before use. This liquid will keep for about 3 weeks to a month.

Now the mixture is ready to be added to the compost.

Shake well again before use!

Application 1

If you are building a compost quickly all at once, sprinkle about one quarter of the activator over the first set of layers, the second sprinkling over the 2nd  set, the third sprinkling over the third set, and the final one at the end.

Application 2

If you are building a compost heap over a longer period, you can also insert the activator into the finished pile at the end. Make 4 to 6 deep holes into the compost pile with a stick. Pour equal parts of the liquid into each hole, fill it up with dry soil and ram it down to prevent air pockets.

The recipe was taken from Maye Bruce’s first book From Vegetable Waste to Fertile Soil.

You can download Maye Bruce’s 2nd book Common Sense Compost Making here:

Common Sense Compost Making


The humus revolution has begun — you can be part of it