Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically, which we share with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I work as an environmental educator, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood and I also volunteer as a Master Composter and hens@home mentor with Garden Organic. We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!


Monday, 24 November 2014

Crickhowell outing - with Tigers and Weasels and Bears and much choklit...and with Jackie Morris and Celestine and the Hare and other friends :)


On Sunday we all had an outing :) Compostman, Compostgirl, Betty Sloth Bear and me :)  After archery at Mordiford we drove over the border into the Land of My Fathers, more specifically to lovely Crickhowell in Wales.

We had an excellent lunch at The Bridge End Inn and then wandered up the hill from the riverside to the even more excellent and very lovely bookshop Book-ish.


Where Jackie Morris and Karin from Celestine and the Hare had been holding court since mid morning.



They are twins, separated at birth and by time, space and different mothers *grin*. They were wearing matching faux fur hats (from SpiritHoods) and matching jumpers (no idea where they came from but I loved them and want one  :)  )



Panda, Mary, Emily and assorted weasels caused mayhem. 


We had such fun in Book-ish - it is an excellent indie bookshop and we loved looking around. Tiny, but perfectly formed and with space for a passel of norty weasels re enacting nursery rhymes :)  Emma, who owns it , was lovely :)



I bought some books which Jackie Morris and Nicola Davies signed for me :) The Promise is lovely and published by Walker Books














Lord of the Forest
is simply beautiful. As was the beautiful little drawing Jackie did on it, along with her signature :)

Compostgirl went on a much needed choklit  run to Black Mountain Gold Chocolate with lovely publisher Janetta Otter Barry.

I also bough some more Wentworth jigsaws  - they are wonderful and the 40 piece ones make great stocking fillers :)


I may also have come away with another Celestine and the Hare felty creation.  No idea how that happened *whistles innocently* Meet Tiger Tim :) He came home in my bag :) Rarrrh!




We also had a wander around the ruins of the Castle :) before heading home :)


Jackie has just had a piece published in The Guardian "How to draw a panda" and it is lovely :) Go and try it for yourself :)

As always a delight to see Jackie, Karin and we made some new friends, we met up with Jules who blogs here and is lovely. She now has a Norty Weasle of her own ! Good luck with him Jules :)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Hereford Contemporary Craft Fair.

Last Saturday we spent a lovely afternoon in Hereford at this event. Went especially to see Tamsin Abbott's display but were also entranced by some of the other exhibits.



Tamsin makes the most wonderful stained glass items. I have a small item at home but I wish I could own all these!















This wooden bowl with resin inlaid panel was made by a very clever process. You can find out more about Ben the artist on his website.



Fab British fleece felt bags & eco print silk scarves from Claire Cawte

 






I loved this cabinet by Andy Tobin



Beautiful baskets made by Jenny Pearce. I went on one of her basket making weekends a few years ago :)


Thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Courtyard to see this event.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tidying up the garden

It has been so wet and dull here recently :( I loathe days when there is no sunshine, I don't mind rain but gloom makes me gloomy.

 














So I decided to get outside and have a bit of a tidy up.

This bit of path is flooding so Compostman  lifted the slab and dug out a gravel filled soakaway underneath it. We also cut back all the dead plants and swept up the path.














 The lean to was in a right mess, full of all sorts of clutter. I cleaned out the double hutch and re instated Juniper the guinea pig in there for the winter as it is insulated and has a cosy cover to keep her warm. The Seramas were in there originally, but now live in the polytunnel


 I also put things away, threw things away and did a lot of recycling to make the lean to a tidy, workable space again as we do work in it out of the rain a lot.


 Much better!

 Then it was onto the chickens, I cleaned out the big girls house and put down more wood chips in the Mega Hen Pen. I also cleaned out their drinkers and feeders and topped them up with fresh food and water. I also gathered the eggs  - thank you girls :)















The Seramas live in the polytunnel now; I did have them free ranging in there in the day and shut in the Broody Arc at night but it is a bit small so I decided to move the smaller hen run and Eglu into the polytunnel so they would have a more spacious run and  the Eglu to sleep in to keep warm. Juniper also has her run in the polytunnel and so can have a run around undercover.


But first, I had to make some space!


Algy the Serama cockerel always wants to see what we are up to, he is such a friendly little chap :)


As you can see in an earlier photo the big girls are laying well but the littlees had not provided any eggs for a few days and here is why!


Someone has been creeping into this tangle of old plant to lay :)


Much tidier and now the Seramas not only have a warmer house to sleep in but a much bigger run.

I felt much happier after doing all this work :)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Plant Me Now creative blogger challenge.

Back in October I was contacted  by Plant Me Now - one of the UK’s leading plant and gardening suppliers -  to join in an invitation only, creative blogger challenge. The challenge was to design a virtual concept for a mixed summer hanging basket, creating a blog post to talk about my flower and colour choices and how I would plant it up in a 30 cm rattan hanging basket.

I must admit I was taken with the idea, not least because, after the pleasure I took from the patio pots I planted up this year, I actually do want to have some hanging baskets around. It also sounded like a bit of  fun, so I told the nice man at Plant Me Now I would have a go:)

I started off looking for plants on line as well as searching through a lot of books. I wanted to make my hanging basket both beautiful to look at AND very attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects. I wanted strong colours of pink and purple, with trailing foliage. I also wanted some scent!  So not much to ask for :)

Normally I would have a good idea which plants I wanted to use because I would have some to look at, but as it is Nov and this is a virtual hanging basket I have to use my imagination. I had a good look at various websites selling plants and seeds and I also had a look at various hanging basket displays on line to get a feel for what could be achieved. I printed off some images of  plants and then tore them into strips to play around with the arrangement.


At times like this I wish I had a super duper graphic design package on my computer! But my torn up strips did give me a feel for the layout I was after.


Next I drew my design on paper and coloured it in so I had a rough idea what it would look like.



I normally plant up containers by eye, judging how many plants to put in from experience of their growing habit but for this I am going to put in a few more "virtual plants" that I would normally - when I make the basket up for real I can always trim them back or even remove one or two later if the hanging basket looks too crowded.

I have gone for a mauve and a pink  Trailing Verbena

http://www.plantmenow.co.uk/verbena-aztec-plum.aspx

http://www.plantmenow.co.uk/verbena-aztec-dark-pink.aspx


 and Nasturtiums in jewel shades of pinks and gold flowers as contrast, this is Summer Carousel


 
along with trailing Nepeta Hederacea as an added foliage backdrop to set off the rich colours of the flowers. The leaves are scented so I am really pleased to have both colour, scent and movement in my basket.

   Nepeta Hederacea


I have a Fuchsia as a fantastic centre piece, which has an unusual deep burgundy corolla and deep pink sepals.
  

I also am deliberating about adding in another trailing fuchsia (Buds of May)  in different shades of mauve and pink. I love these colours and as it will be hanging in *my* patio I can please myself, but I am finding it difficult to decide if the planting will be too crowded if I have three fuchsias in the middle  :) In the end I decided to have several as I can always take them out if they are too crowded.

All of these flowers are rated highly as bee/butterfly/insect attracting flowers so I am hoping my hanging basket will be humming with activity next summer.

Next I have to think about how to plant up my hanging basket. It is easier to plant them if you place the basket in a bucket to keep it steady. The rattan basket I have to use is already lined to provide a water reservoir so I will  line the bottom of the basket with a circle cut from an old wool jumper to retain more moisture. I will then half fill it up with peat free growing medium and some of my worm compost.

I will plant the centre fuchsia first, and then arrange the other plants a pattern, filling the basket after to near the rim with my growing medium/work cast mix.

I will then carefully hang the basket on a securely fixed wall mounted bracket which was designed to take the weight of a hanging basket - they can be heavy when the soil is moist!

The basket will then be given a very good drink of water and I will make sure I water it regularly. One tip to save water - have other pots or troughs underneath to use the water which drips out from the bottom of the basket so it does not go to waste.

It is also important to feed a hanging basket regularly - I will use my home made worm and comfrey tea  and add it to the watering can as a regular liquid feed. It is also important to regularly deadhead plants to prolong the flowering season - making sure all the dead flowers and foliage go into the compost, of course!

I am looking forward to being able to make my design a reality in 2015. Plant Me Now will shortlist two of the designs,  which their Facebook fans will then vote on to decide on their favourite to go into production for Summer 2015. I will let you know how my design gets on :)


Written in association with PlantMeNow

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Silver jewelry making workshop Day 2

Up bright and early Sun morning ready to drive over to blue-ginger gallery in Cradley for day two of my silver jewelry making workshop with the lovely and talented Hannah Willow.


We all met up and had a chat before settling down to a busy day.


Betty Bear came along to help me


Hannah showing us the finished silver items :)


Mine :) Need polishing to make them shiny :)


But first they needed cleaning up with a wire brush to get rid of all the scale from the kiln. Betty helped me. I have no nails left after doing this!


My bear :)

Playing around with ideas



At the end of the weekend this is what I made :)




I had a wonderful weekend and I am so surprised I could make such lovely things :) Hannah is an amazing tutor and very inspiring :)



Me, modelling my bear and earrings :)
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