A Survey of the Ancient Husbandry and Gardening,
Collected from Cato, Varro, Columella, Virgil, and others the most eminent Writers among the Greeks and Romans… (1725) pp. 60-61
Richard Bradley
Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge, and F.R.S.

The next Thing recommend by the Ancients for manuring of Land, is the Stalks of Lupines, cut and laid to rot; and Fern, and the Leaves of Trees, likewise, they advise for the same Purpose. Our English Husbandmen, altho’ the Lupine is a Stranger to them, yet they are not insensible, that Vegetables rotted and reduced to Mold, make very rich Soil, which of Necessity must abound in vegetative Salts; ‘tis not uncommon with us, to save the Leaves of Trees with the Sweepings of Wood Piles, and Fern, or any other Vegetable, which will not over run the Ground with Weeds; all these I say, make an excellent Compost; but let us take with us the Advice of these Roman Husbandmen, in keeping such Mixtures wet, in Order to rot them soon; and by this Means there is a Fermentation kept up in the Body of these Mixtures, which will destroy whatever Seeds there are among them. A Preparation of this Kind, when it is once fit for Use, will be very Light; and besides the rich Salts it may contain, will very much help to open stiff Land: In the ashes likewise there are Abundance of the fix’d Salts of Vegetables, so that they likewise must greatly contribute to enrich Land; but they must be us’d sparingly, and only sprinkled upond Ground just before we harrow it. This was try’d with very good Success, by a Friend of mine, who had one Year made a great Quantity of Charcoal, and had several Loads of Coal Dust by him; and for rotted Wood and Leaves it is to be suppos’d that cannot be wanting in Woods, that have stood an hundred Years. Two Years agon, I perswaded a Gentleman to be at the Expence of taking off as much of the Surface of his Wood Land, as he could easily come at, to carry upon his Corn Land, and he tells me, he never saw finer Wheat in his Life, tho’ he did not value the Ground before at four Shillings per Acre: But we have now many Instances in Berkshire, of the Excellence of rotted Wood, and Leaves of Trees for Corn, where they have grub’d up the Wood, and sown Wheat; but I cannot help at every Opportunity, when I have Occasion to mention the cutting down of Woods, to remind my Reader, to take care at the same Time, to plant when he cuts down; for without, I am sure England will soon be out of Stock of Timber.

Thus far of the several Sorts of Manures us’d by the Roman Husbandman: In my remarks upon them, we shall find which are, and which are not us’d with us; but we have many others, besides what has been yet mention’d, that are in great Esteem among the English Husbandmen, vis. Marle, for light Soil, Sea Coal Ashes, for heavy Soil, Chalk, Woolen Rags, Lime, Cakes of Linseed, after the Oyl is press’d out, old Thatch, the Soil out of Ponds and Ditches, Sea Weed, Shavings of Horn, Sea Sand, or drift Sand, Rubbish of old Walls, and some others which I have mention’d in my Monthly Works. Having taken this View of the Manures of the Antients, I next proceed to enquire into the Seasons of the Year, that they chose to dung their Ground.