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 and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats 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 am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

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!

Thursday 28 February 2008

Gloriousness in the garden!

Oh how I DO love this time of year!!

Daffodils beginning to burst open, Crocus brightly coloured against the grass, the last Snowdrops slowly fading to brown and Primroses starry against the green........

Catkins showering the ground with golden pollen and one of the many robins following me as I dig in the garden..............I love Robins!

Monday 25 February 2008

No wonder I feel tired!!

Have just completed a major overhaul of the "Bamboo" shrub bed.

Here are some pictures of the hard work, I have not pruned and cleared this bed to this extent for 7 years as I have either been too unwell or too busy or the weather has been too dreadful in previous years.....but this year the weather is kind, I am feeling a little stronger day to day AND am actually ahead of the outside jobs list for once!!

So.......I dived in armed with loppers and the shredder, to tackle the very overgrown Bamboo...and rake up all the dead stuff...and prune the various shrubs back into some semblance of submission....

And this is the end result...for now at least! I have to fork it all over and plant up some Crocosmia Masonorum and various Cordylines and Lavenders and other plants, but for now....Job Done!!!

Friday 22 February 2008

Restoring the past............

Today compostman and I went up the lane to our little church to see what was happening with the restoration of the Tithe Barn next to it...

The Church, Barn and Farm complex are a Conservation area, Grade 2* listed and have been there for 900 years

The sundial on the side of the Church

The Tithe barn WAS in a real state and has been being restored for months...but now the new thatched roof is going up!!!

We felt SO happy to see this wonderful site being given the care and attention it deserves...the owners of the Farm have spent a lot of time and money on restoring the farmhouse...I do not know if they are wholly or partly funding the Barn restoration or if it is public money only, but HURRAH for someone stopping the barn from falling into a pile of rotting timber...

I am not ( as you know) a Christian, but I honour the beliefs of others and this site has seen deep held convictions of goodness and kindness for 900 - plus years..if not for longer.

So I am happy to see such a gem being cared for... :)

And it was good for us to do something OTHER than slog in the garden or house.......

Wednesday 20 February 2008

A frosty walk in the wood and garden....

I decided today to go for a proper walk in our wood. It was still freezing at noon.....
The cobwebs were still frosted......and magical.

I wandered down into the wood and found this amazing log which has been there for at least the 10 plus years we have been in our house.....

and I noticed that the "Thrushs' Anvil" was in use again :)

The visibility was NOT very good today!!

Where has my house gone??

A badger snuffle pit.....with claw marks!!

Frosted Holly.

My sundial again!.................. sorry;)

See the frost!!

And finally, one of my favourite plants....the Teasels......I LOVE them!!!

I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place and to have such a wonderful wood and garden.

I need to enjoy it more and work in it a bit less I think!! So often we take for granted the good things we have right under our noses...if I had gone out for a day trip somewhere and wandered round a little wood like ours I would have been delighted with the outing...

but because it is "ours" I usually only go and do work in the wood, logging, gathering firewood or doing chores...I NEED to make more time to actually "be in the moment " and ENJOY the wonders on my doorstep!!

in fact I am going to add that to my list of "things to accomplish in 2008"!!

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Jungle fowl!

Just a few pictures of Henny and Ginger doing what hens do....and showing their "Jungle Fowl" ancestry...

Monday 18 February 2008

So this is what all it looks like after all the hard work

Today Compostman and I have been clearing out yet another shrub/flower bed in the garden. This time it was the one over by the Orchard

This bed contains lots of roses which needed pruning, a Buddlia Davidii, a Vibernum Plicatum "Sterile" which has huge blooms like tennis balls, various other shrubs which have got a bit out of hand, a Victoria Plum tree which is very prolific, and a lot of assorted perennial plants and bulbs...

I removed all the dead plant stems and leaves, to let the sun and the light get to the soil and allow the new plants to reach up from under the soil...

...........and compostman pruned back the roses and I pruned back the shrubs, to let them regenerate.

I got a huge pile of prunings which compostman shredded...these then went back on the bed as a weed suppressing mulch. I also raked off and gathered up 4 wheelbarrow loads of dead plant stuff ...so that can go on the compostbins!!

Having a well earned cuppa!!

Compostman waves hello to Blogland!!

The pruning finished, the bed just needs the twigs collecting up...the hens ( as ever) helping...

And here is one of the shrub beds I cleared and pruned earlier on February.

This is all quite a lot of hard work and it takes me days to finish a bed like this...

but I always feel very satisfied when I can look at the finished bed and see how much improved it looks.

All tidy and ready for the new plants to grow!

Thursday 14 February 2008

Fudge the Guinea Pig joins the blogging world.

Here are a few pictures of Fudge the guinea pig investigating how the computer works.

Next thing he will have his own blog I expect!!

Wednesday 13 February 2008

A trip out to the Zoo!

Today we had a day off from Garden/House repair/clearing trees and took compostmiss and a friend to Bristol Zoo.
We had a lovely time! I have mixed feelings about zoos but Bristol has a very good conservation and breeding policy and supports various places around the World in their efforts to keep animals in their natural habitat. So after our very first visit, several years ago, we became family members and now go several times a year to see the Zoo.

AND the Zoo has a brilliant attitude to food, recycling, etc!! The cafe has fair trade, seasonal, local ( sometimes organic!) food, paper cups for water, china mugs for drinks, wooden spoons for stirrers etc etc so all the stuff can be composted!

The best bit was when I asked in the Cafe if the very yummy looking chicken dish was made from free range chicken ( as I wouldn't have eaten it otherwise(!))

The answer was "yes, of course " :)

So a good day out for the compost family and friend. ;)

Why can't more family attractions be
like that??

A Merekat

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Digging the Veg patch, making room for more logs AND Heritage seeds!!

As we have had such sunny weather, the ground has begun to dry out and be ok for turning over so here is the freshly dug parsnip bed.
We LIKE Parsnips at Compost Mansions!!

I usually grow Chase Organics "Tender and True" and "Avonresister"...both very good varieties. I grow some in loo roll tubes and dig a deep hole and transplant the whole loo roll into the ground when the parsnip seed has germinated, as well as some seeds planted direct into the ground.

Also as compostman has been cutting down trees and tall shrubs lately he has been tidying up the log store....

And has made a new bay for new wood..the other 2 bays are "2+ year old" and "one +year old" ....we are currently burning the 2+ stuff and very good it is, too...

I have also been sending our some of my saved seeds to various friends...I am a member of Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library and every winter I get to choose some endangered seeds from an extensive selection...I grow and eat them AND I save seed from them...and I share them with friends, school...ANYONE who is willing to grow them and protect them..as long as no one is making commercial profit from them its great ( and commercial profit is OK, too, but Garden Organic need to get a cut!!)

I LOVE the HSL "Purple Giant" and "Canadian" climbing French Beans..we have given up growing Runner Beans in preference to these as they are SO good and freeze SO well!!
Also Tomato "Aunty Madge" and "Black Russian" and Leek "Colossal" These are WONDERFUL old varieties and deserve to be kept alive...but if no one grows them, as they are no longer commercially available, they will die out.


Monday 11 February 2008

Cleaning out the Eglu!

Here are a couple of photos showing how easy it is to take an eglu to bits for cleaning..undo a couple of nuts...lift off the top, remove the slatted perching bars for a scrub..I have 2 sets so I have one set drying and can put a clean set back...

Hose out the inside to kill any nasty mites..., dry in sunshine (or with a towel if there isn't any!!)

put back togeather, reassemble in about 5 mins...and hey presto the hens have a nice clean run, with fresh straw, clean perching bars and fresh food and lots of chippings to scratch in , inside their run....

We also moved the whole run and Eglu to another part of the Orchard and moved the electric fence so the girls were on a fresh bit of land..