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!

Monday 31 March 2008

Some Wildlife

Today, much to our relief, we spotted some toad spawn in the pool. February is the usual time for us to see them here and last year we had toad spawn in early Febuary and saw lots of toads around. This year, however we had begun to worry as we had not seen the usual writhing mass of mating toads on the gravel nor any toad spawn!!

So we are pleased to welcome them back again!

Also the other day I saw a Green Woodpecker eating on the lawn...we get all three sorts of Woodpecker here but Green Woodpeckers are usually heard rather than seen ( they are the ones who make the "Yaffle" sound in the trees!)

This is a photo I took of one in the same place in the garden last year, as I didn't have my camera handy today!

Sunday 30 March 2008

Earth Hour

"Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

About Earth Hour
On March 31 2007, for one hour, Sydney made a powerful statement about the greatest contributor to global warming – coal-fired electricity – by turning off its lights. Over 2.2 million Sydney residents and over 2,100 businesses switched off, leading to a 10.2% energy reduction across the city. What began as one city taking a stand against global warming caught the attention of the world.

In 2008, 24 global cities participated in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29. Earth Hour is the highlight of a major campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their emissions on an ongoing basis. It is about simple changes that will collectively make a difference – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty, to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby."

Did you join in??

Did you switch off lights and any unnecessary appliances from 8 pm till 9 pm on Saturday night??

WE did !!!

Here is the woodburner at 7:59 pm...

and here is the same view at 8:01 pm

We were all off here except for fridges and freezers....I liked using my home made candles and the aromas I added gave it a nice atmosphere...and the wood burner was lit, with nice clean glass...so we watched the flames.... had a bottle of wine, ate a nice dinner, watched the flames from the wood burner, listened to the cat snoring !

ah watching the flames......

compostmiss gave up her usual electric nightlight in her bedroom tonight so as to be part of it...

Saturday 29 March 2008

The view from my bedroom window.

This is the sight I am lucky enough to see when I look out of the bedroom window in the morning!

It is so beautiful here, birdsong, fresh air and nature all around. I feel SO blessed to live here!!

Friday 28 March 2008

A nice cup of tea and a sit on the wall

I have not been feeling too well the last few days, I have some kind of " wobbly legged, feeling achey all over and headachy" sort of thing and have not been able to do much in the garden .

So I pottered around in the polytunnel in the warmth, watering the seeds, the early veg and both the overwintered and newly acquired garden plants.

I have been Freecycling for plant bits and bobs, also have attended a few charity plant sales recently and have been given various stuff by friends, so I have LOTS more new plants to put in the garden. I think I am viewed as a sort of Rescue Home for old plants!!

I spent some time thinking about where I am going to plant the latest shrubs and herbaceous perennials and summer flowing bulbs I have accumulated over the last month or so.

I also sowed a few more trays of salads, some more leeks and tomato seeds and flower seed for my cutting garden.

I then was given a nice mug of tea by compostman, and sat on the west facing wall outside the back door to drink it.

The late afternoon sun shone on my face and a skylark was high above me in the sky singing for all its worth. Bliss!

And this was what I was looking at as I drank my tea.

It was very peaceful and I felt real contentment with life.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

A hard day in the garden!!

Have been very busy today planting spuds...

Well, planting more spuds I should really say!! I have already got the 1st Earlies and 2nd Earlies in the ground and yesterday and today I got 3 rows of Maincrop in...A really nice waxy salad potato called "Nicola" and a row of "King Edward"

Compostman dug over the ground for me and then I made some trenches and dropped each spud in a hole in the bottom of the trench, with some organic chicken poo pellets and some grass clippings ( they help prevent scab)

I then tucked the spuds up nice and warm with a good covering of soil....

Unfortunately Henny and Ginger thought all this was purely for THEIR benefit and came along

and rather destroyed my nice earthing up ridges of soil in between the trenches, but hey ho...never mind...I can rebuild them. I think perhaps it is time, though, to fence the hens out of the area of the veg plot I have planted up....

Every year we grow enough spuds to last us From late June/early July until the following May... so we only buy potatos for about a month or so every year.

But last year we lost virtually all our Maincrop harvest to blight ( oh what a suprise, after all the wet weather !)

We had to start buying potatos in October!!

So I am really hoping that , this year
a) The weather is better
b) Getting them in a bit earlier will help if we DO get blight again
c) I have spaced the rows out even further AND lets a larger gap between each spud within the trench, so hopefully more air can get in between the potato plants.

Fingers crossed!! That all this will help and once again we will have a decent harvest.

Monday 24 March 2008


Let me introduce you to Compostcat! (aka Kitty)

Kitty is about 15, we don't know exactly how old he is, as we inherited him when we moved here 10 years ago.

He is a mighty hunter but despite that, a VERY gentle puss with us. His favourite occupation is to lie on the sofa next to us and lick our hands...

Sunday 23 March 2008

A one compostwoman mower...

I recently bought myself a push mower, propelled by ...ME!

I had been looking for one on Freecycle for ages but kept on being unlucky and missing it.

So I finally decided to buy a new one and found one in B and Q for a really good price.

And it is GREAT!!

I can push it along and still listen to the birds singing and my ears are not being assulted by the noise of the petrol engine.

I also can just do a small amount and feel happy to put the push mower away whereas when I get the petrol mower out, fill it up with fuel etc I feel I *must* do a fair bit of mowing to make it worthwhile starting up the engine!!So... over the last 10 days I have been slowly mowing all the grass for the first time this year...as the grass is quite long it has taken me some time ...and I have found the little push mower EXCELLENT!

The quiet push mower is really very little more work than the petrol mower and its a lot more pleasant work, too!

And, unlike the petrol mower, the hens don't mind it, either!!

Saturday 22 March 2008

A trip to Westons Cider Mill

Our local Cider Mill, Westons, has a Rare breeds farm park as well as the Mill shop, museam and cafe. It opens for the start of the season on Good Friday each year and we always go along to the opening.

This year the opening day was in aid of the County Air Ambulance, a charity which is VERY important in our rather rural setting!!

In fact I have several friends and acquaintances who have been saved by the speedy response of the Air Ambulance getting them to Hospital quickly.

It was sunny but AMAZINGLY cold on the slopes of Marcle Ridge, where Westons is situated. We arrived, well wrapped up and had the grand opening and ribbon cutting by the Air Ambulance crew and then...they got called away on a shout!!

So...I got some photos of them taking off..

as well as some cute shots of Pigs, Alpacas, Shetland ponies, Peacocks and Buff Orpington hens to share with you.


Westons also has a very beautiful award winning garden which looks very lovely all year round.

We finished up by having a very nice lunch and some EXCELLENT beer at the Walwyn Arms in Much Marcle..so a "good pub" recommendation for you as well!!

Thursday 20 March 2008

Compostman clears the hedge!!

No he HAS NOT been inspired by showjumping to jump over it!!! Our front fence has a lot of shrubs and trees growing along it and it has all got rather overgrown and untidy with clematis and honeysuckle creepers

So....compostman decided to sort it all out ( with a bit of help from me)

here is a before picture

and a during picture
and an after picture

and just some of the stuff he removed!!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Musings on "living a self sufficient (ish) life"


Being green and self sufficient can be hard work!!!

A large rural plot/wood/chickens etc is NOT all it is cracked up to be when you have a bad back, a duff immune system, are totally dependent on your car to get anywhere( nearest shop 2 miles..nearest smallish town 5 miles.)

Its a hard slog sometimes..I love where I live..I wouldn't want to live in a town again BUT I have a bad back at the mo and compostman has hurt his shoulder doing major restoration on our 100 year old house...BUT the spuds need to be in NOW..the onion patch needs to be dug over NOW...the hedge has to be cut NOW or the birds will be nesting...and the orchard MUST be pruned NOW ...

but what do you do if you are ill??? or tired...or you just "do not feel like it..."

well the answer is you just have to get on with it... regardless of aches and pains and GP saying "go to bed"......

Being self sufficient is WONDERFUL...I LOVE that we can grow most of our food...BUT if you are thinking of doing what we have done, be aware it IS a huge burden as well as a HUGE delight.

Holidays are non existant!( you try to find a hen and other stock sitter and someone who can water the polytunnel so the crops actually thrive in July/August!!!!)

And some years the delight is a bit thin on the ground as well............... especially if one of you has a major illness/operation.............

sorry I didn't mean to bring in a down note on my blog...but " the good life " is actually bloody hard work!!!!!


STILL I get up in the morning and think " aaahhhhhhhhhh" as I open my bedroom window to air the room ...and I breathe in the sweet, fresh air.... and the days are wonderful ........and the night sky is magical.... and I get to see the stars in the dark night sky.....listen to nightingales in the summmer to the extent that they become a major pain in the butt!!

I can go and pick food and be eating it within 15 mins...I can go into the garden and just "be" for 10 mins and listen to a skylark doing its thing above my head....I can be blessed to see a hare living in our wood for the winter.......

So..I moderate my previous comments.........it IS great...but it IS still hard work.......

Friday 14 March 2008

Leek and Potato soup!! mmmn! and musings on living the "30 MILE DIET"

This is what we had for lunch.

Home made,home grown, Leek and Potato soup with home made wholemeal bread ( all the ingredients from within 30 miles of here!) and some organic pate which is UK, but not sure where from, BUT we only bought THAT becaues we had run out of compostman's yummy homemade pate ( which, again , is made from organic ingredients sourced from within less than 30 miles from here.)

We are trying to minimise our food miles so as to eat stuff grown or reared from within a 20-30 mile radius as far as we can...obviously the coffee does come from a lot further away...( but it IS Organic, Fair Trade etc.....!) BUT our dairy, meat, sausages and bacon, flour, vegetables, juices, apples, cider, beer, soft drinks come from growers within that radius....

and the stuff from further away is bought from within 5 miles away....

AND it was a yummy lunch, too!!

I know we are not going to achieve an 100% 20 mile radius food diet...( Bananas, coffee, tea, some wine, cat food etc...) but still...WE ARE TRYING!!

Thursday 13 March 2008

Musings on the passing of time

I have spent a lot of time in the garden recently, sowing and digging and planting and tending the soil...and I have been clearing away the detritus of last years growth and also harvesting the last of the crops from the garden.

I gave a friend a huge bundle of leeks from the garden, whilst they are still in prime condition we might as well use them rather than wait for them to bolt!!

and I made a huge pan of Leek and Potato soup here in the week...the house was full of the smell of leeks and we feasted on the dark green richness of it.

I froze 10 portions in rectangular tubs so we can have some over the next few weeks...( but it goes SO fast in this household!!) and I have only a few leeks left now in the garden, a sure sign that the wheel of the year has turned!

Quite close to the leek patch is where the rhubarb lives...and that is growing fast now...

and the salad seeds I planted 6 days ago have sprouted!!
Spring is definetely sprung.......