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!

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Why I make compost.

As a Master Composter promoting composting in Herefordshire, on behalf of the Council and Garden Organic, I get asked a lot of questions about how to make compost and what to do with it.

So, in honour of it being Compost Awareness Week, I am going to post (again) about composting :-)

Composting your biodegradable, organic waste is great for many reasons. It reduces the size of your waste bin, so means less transport is needed to remove household waste. It gives you fine, homemade compost so you don't need to buy in artificial fertiliser. And it also removes some of the most damaging, greenhouse-gas-causing, waste from landfill sites.

According to CAT

About a third of the waste sent to landfill in the UK is biodegradable organic matter, such as food , paper, cardboard, textiles, and garden waste. In a landfill site, these materials will be broken down by microbes to produce a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane. Methane is a very damaging greenhouse gas - it has over 20 times as much 'global warming potential' as carbon dioxide (by weight). At the moment, about 70% (over two-thirds) of landfill gas is flared off or captured, so a damaging impact will still come from the remaining 30%.

Methane is produced in 'anaerobic' conditions - which means that there is not much oxygen present. The emission to the atmosphere of large amounts of methane can be avoided by not sending lots of biodegradable waste to landfill. Instead, it can be composted at home or at a community level, or sent to a special anaerobic digestion facility, where the bio gas (methane and CO2) can be collected.

Amazingly, by composting all their food, garden and cardboard waste, an average individual would prevent about 5kg of methane per year from landfill, which is equivalent to just over 100kg of carbon dioxide per year.

An average household that composts this waste would prevent emissions of 13kg of methane per year, equivalent to 280kg of carbon dioxide per year (just over one quarter of a tonne of carbon dioxide). By comparison, a small petrol car doing 40mpg will need to travel about 1000 miles to release one quarter of a tonne (250kg) of carbon dioxide, and a small diesel car doing 60mpg will need to travel about 1200 miles to release the same amount.

So...you can see it all makes good environmental and economic sense to make compost!

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been a keen organic gardener and composter for many years and am a Master Composter - a volunteer community compost advisor with my local council and Garden Organic (the working name for HDRA). I go to various events such as county shows, give talks and demonstrations, take school assemblies, lecture, give talks to garden groups and enthuse about compost to all and sundry! I can talk about compost endlessly, I find the whole process fascinating and view compost making as the very heart and soul of gardening.

We garden completely organically here and making compost is at the very heart of all our growing and disposal methods. We take fertility from the earth by growing vegetables and fruit, then we return it to the earth by composting the left over waste and feeding it back to the soil.

Compostman and I make more than 4000 L of compost a year plus what ever is currently cooking in the various compost bins. We use it to grow a huge amount of veg in a quite small space. Our outside veg plot is relatively small at 10 x 14 m,

plus another four of 1 x 4m raised beds but it provides us with veg for most of the year, and has in the past supported us virtually all year round.

The plants in the 4 x 9 m polytunnel are grown in builders buckets of home made growing medium also, made up of home made compost, sand and a bit of soil. I only buy in growing medium (certified organic!) to sow seeds.

I am sure it is all so productive because of all the home made compost we put back into the soil and whenever we dig it all over there are loads of worms and insects.

In my next post I shall share how *I* make compost :-)


  1. My composting efforts are so puny compared to yours! I'm learning though, and this is a great week to get more info it seems :-) Where do you store your compost? I have a small compost pail and then take it outside into a bigger container every couple days to add in there. Space is limited, do you have any ideas on how to maximize composting efforts?
    Are there some types of plants that don't do well with compost? I'm thinking about how they have different soil pH needs etc... would compost disrupt that depending on what goes into the compost heap?

  2. You were the inspiration that started me composting. I've added a second bin this year and only have to take the garbage out every other week. I love seeing the pics of your garden because it is living proof of the rewards of compost.

    What seeds are you still starting indoors?

  3. Hello lovely friends :-)

    I am *so* pleased you are both composting :-)

    I am planting at the moment in the PT, the next lot of peas, some more Dwarf French and Climbing beans, I am filling in the gaps in the seed tray modules where sweetcorn failed to germinate, sowing more squash, pumpkin and courgette seeds....sowing loads more salads..( as the first lot get "true" leaves, I sow the next lot!)

    and brassicas...lots of Kale, PSB, cabbage

    Have finished with tomatos, peppers, aubergines now..I counted up and have 150 assorted tomato plants ( and that is AFTER the plant sale!)

    I shall sell some at my gate to make some money for me...and keep the smallest to grow on for the School Fete in a months time...

    I am sowing more carrots, beetroot, turnips and kohl rabi direct into the soil as well as leeks..I also have some nice leek seedlings on the go in the PT...

    I seem to have grown an awful lot more stuff this year...and I usually grow A LOT...so where I am going to stick it all, I have no idea!

    but I am determined to have more home grown stuff ALL YEAR ROUND in 2009/2010

    As far as applying compost goes, really compost is benificial pretty well everywhere...its not a good idea to use too much on herbs which like low fertility or on root crops like carrots or parsnips, as they split and fork if the soil is too rich..but really pretty well everything likes a bit of compost...

    just go light if its flower plants, as they tend to grow green leafy shoots at the expense of flowers

    Maximising composting with small amount of space? either compost tummblers ( I am not keen as I have not found them wonderful, but that is just me!)

    or a taller compost bin, with a small footprint but go which goes taller!

    See next post for more detail ;-)


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.