The Manure Factor

The roses grew so profusely that a rose petal confetti filled a white bougainvillea bell constructed by Mr. Nimo at the machi
The roses grew so profusely that a rose petal confetti filled a white bougainvillea bell constructed by Mr. Nimo at the machine shop at the Globe and Phoenix Mine for my wedding. A lovely surprise.

Roses, as well as everything else, grew profusely in our garden in 1967.  Mom filled a white bougainvillea bell with rose petal confetti for my wedding.  The bell was constructed by Mr. Nimo.  He made many of the props for the pantos at the machine shop at the Globe and Phoenix Mine .

The Manure Factor 

Colin Tyzack’s stories of Stanley House’s blood bank last week reminded me of another story.

Dad said I couldn’t get married until I qualified as a Medical Technologist.  You just never knew when you might need to fall back on it.   Once I moved out to Harare Hospital and became the only med. tech in the nurses residence it was smooth sailing.  Except for the weekly hockey game we played against other government departments and businesses at the various sports clubs around town, there weren’t the usual distractions of the big city lights of Salisbury.  The course was tough and the work was over whelming with the press of numbers.  Pathology in all its forms consumed me.  I passed top of my class in April 1967 and was married the following month, headed for America.  The future couldn’t look rosier.

The Manure Factor

Six months before my wedding I did my final rotation through the Blood Bank.  It was the biggest blood bank in the country.  Banks of big 4˚C refrigerators with glass doors housed the one pint glass bottles of blood.  Blood expires in three months, so there is a need for regular bleeds to replenish supplies.  Big businesses, factories, farms and mines round about Salisbury kept the stocks up.  We wanted to have plenty of blood on hand to cope with any emergency.

Water is precious in Africa.  When our new house was built in Hillandale Dad insisted on our sewage water being directed to the garden so as not to waste it. These taps were painted red.   (But at least one unsuspecting visitor quenched his thirst from one of these taps after the steep bicycle climb up our hill, in the hot summer.)

We had a rainwater tank installed to take the run off from the big expanse of corrugated iron roof to supplement our borehole.  Mom and I would always take a jug full for the final cold rinse of our hair.  It gave our hair its silky shine that everybody noticed.  The occasional rat would wash down the gutters.  The smell alerted us to the necessity of a flush.  We used this water on the garden, especially on the paw-paws, Dad’s favorite fruit.

The best gift Mom could receive from Mr. Philipson on his Forestvale Ranch was a lorry load of manure.  When it was fresh it would burn the plants.  She had our garden boys, Sugar and Agrippa, mix it into the compost heap.  Here it smoldered away just below flash point.  Over time it made the richest soil, but it was a slow process.

Sometimes a tea was steeped out of the manure.  This was poured judiciously around the roses.  It too could burn.

At Harare Hospital, with lots of dark red rich expired blood going down the drain, I hit on the idea of bringing it home for the garden.  Being physiological, it wouldn’t burn the plants.

My fiancé was the tallest, thinnest man I’d ever met, which was strangely part of the attraction.  Every weekend, he would wind himself down into his pale yellow Austin Mini Cooper and we’d hurtle on down the 150 miles from Harare.  Fully loaded we’d arrive home in record time.

That was the secret of how our garden grew and bloomed so exceptionally, especially the roses, that year, May 1967.  It was every bit remarked on as my dress and the unusual wedding cake.

Those are other stories….