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 am a Master Composter and have spent the last many many years as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I offer talks and run workshops and events where we talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. We also make crafts and have fun. 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, 27 December 2010

The thaw begins

Well today I have been out in the polytunnel a lot as it is finally above freezing here - HURRAH! So I have been able to do some work, cleaning pots, sweeping the floor and generally making it all tidy and ready to start the 2011 growing season. Joyous times!

Hens are still disgusted though...the snow has not gone away so they are inside the Mega Hen Pen and are refusing to set foot in the nasty white cold stuff...

I also cleaned out the guinea pig hutch and the rabbit hutch, sorted out the study and did some crafting and mending.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Evening outside at Compost Mansions.




Brrrrr -14 outside...Brrrr

The Feathery Laidees were NOT impressed, despite hot porridge, mealworms and cheese treats.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

More about Christmas Day

So, amongst some lovely presents I recieved were....

A Cheese making kit....for hard and soft cheese, with a press and moulds and all...

A Lace making kit...

The book of the TV series Edwardian Farm and the 2 Stephen Fry autobiogs to read

and a bottle of Spietzia face oil, which I love, it smells of roses and vanilla.

Feel very lucky and pampered today!

Compostman and Compostgirl seemed to appreciate their gifts as well and we have had a quiet, friendly family day together...which was the very best gift of all!

Happy Christmas Day!

12 noon

Merry Christmas to all, its glorious here, sunny, blue sky, a balmy - 8 now, was -13 overnight (!)

Beef is slow cooking in bottom oven of Aga, went in about 8 am and will be done late afternoon...yorkshire batter resting, some presents have been opened, more to come...

all lovely but best one so far is the Cheese Making Kit (Hard and Soft) (thank you to my lovely Compostman Very Happy , how he got it delivered I do not know... )

And the Lace Making Kit - Thank you Compostgirl Very Happy

So some lovely crafty days to come for me, some involving milk I think!

I hope you all have lovely lovely days full of peace, fun, food and laughter ( and cheese).

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a blessed Yule!

To all my readers and blog friends, old and new, Season's greetings, A festive Yule and a Happy New Year!




From all of us here at Compost Mansions, the humans, the feathery two legged and the furry four legged ones.







May you have a lovely, lovely holiday time!





Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday shopping trip

I braved Hereford Sainsbury with Compostman, and got stocked up on the stuff we get from there. Our meat delivery came this week, so we are now OK for meat from the local organic farm. We also came home from Hereford via John Davenport's organic farm shop and got some fresh veg in. It will all keep quite happily in the garage, along side our own harvested stuff from the garden, ( sprouts, leeks, parsnips etc) as his stuff is sold " dirt on, roots on etc" so you can heel it in if needed for a week or more....

We also made sure all the store cupboard items were stocked up, likewise the small animal food. Will be getting more hen food and bedding tomorrow to make sure we have a good supply in the barn.

Also I now have all presents sorted and all stuff sent apart from cards which go tomorrow.

We have made sure that the fuel for cars and the generator is sufficient, just in case we have a power outage or several ( as is normal)

We are doing this becaues we expect more of the white stuff and disruption next week so are making sure we are prepped and ready for Yule/Xmas, now, just in case!

I am feeling a bit rough now, but managed a day on my feet today and did hens, small pets and some seasonal stuff as well as sitting in the car, so am on the mend again I hope.

But have to go and have investigations as to why I keep on having bouts of this drunk2 as it is getting too frequent....

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Thursday thinking

Still drunk2 ( I love that emoticon!) but slowly improving. May have to go out later to Hereford with Compostman, though, and stock up on food etc stuff regardless of how I feel, as more white stuff and very cold weather is predicted here over the next few days. Living where we do, we need to make sure we keep stocked up with supplies, as we have been unable to get out for more than a week, before now.

House smells delish though, as yesterday I have been making soaps and lotions balms and and bath bombs and all sorts of stuff. I thought up some new recipes for various soaps, lotions etc while I was bed bound and made some notes and read a few reference books on ingredients, essential oils etc.

As soon as I was well enough I set out to weigh and measure out ingredients and  and have made some really lovely stuff as a result. I make stuff like this as gifts and for our own use all year round but am thinking of maybe opening an online shop as I AM a qualified Aroma/Holistic Therapist so it seems like a good idea to sell some of the lovely, organic stuff I make!

We need smellovision on this blog...  :-) Pictures WILL follow!

Compostgirl got very confused this morning when she saw some bath bombs in cupcake cases curing in the kitchen, she thought I had left some cakes out in the open to go stale!
 

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Feeling slightly better

Am feeling slightly better, still in bed in gloomlight but double vision is going, can now read a book and walk(slowly) without falling over.

Hopefully will be up and about later on, got up yesterday for a couple of hours, did a few chores, made myself worse, went back to lie down again.....

Thank you all for the good wishes and hope you are all well, enjoying the season and ready for the up coming celebrations.

Don't forget the lunar eclipse on the Solstice! Am looking forward to that, if it is clear ( didn't see any of the lightshow last night due to cloud grrr......)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Am still poorly but taking the drugs ...they don't really help much, but knock me out so I suppose that is an advantage over the vertigo and nausea.....but am bed bound in a darkened room at the mo all day

Compostman bought a small ish LCD tv with DVD player and has installed it in our bedroom temporarily, so when I am able I can watch TV from the bed, so I enjoyed River Cottage and am catching up with some opera DVDs, as with those, if I can't watch I can at least listen! TV is destined to be a "floating TV" and will replace huge CRT/DVD player/digibox set up in guest room, which takes up much needed extra space, or can be moved into our room or Compostgirl's room as needed....so am glad he decided to buy it tbh.

Rather sad that I had to miss Cg's production of "Scrooge" today, am a bit gutted as am unlikely to be well enough to go to tomorrow's performance either... Crying or Very sad

but I know from bitter experience the ONLY way to shift this is with lots of dark room rest....so am actually doing just that ( shock horror! Am actually DOING WHAT I AM TOLD!!! Shocked Smile )

Hopefully doing this will get me recovered asap so I can get back to the million and one things I need to do, and so let Compostman get on with all the million and one things HE is supposed to be doing, and instead is doing MY chores as well as his...

Feel bad about that; don't like to shirk, but have no choice as I fall over when I try to stand up! Have already bashed my face about due to a tumble....

Hope you are all ok and enjoying the run up to the festivities....

Off back to bed, it took me 3 hours to compose this in Word...so have had enough now.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Labyrinthitis AGAIN

Am still here, but with Labarynthitis again so not looking at screens very much and so not writting blog posts, either..

Have been resting.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cassi goes to the vets

- 9 here again last night, and very cold this morning...more ice and frost everywhere. Am in from the hens and have my hand wrapped around a hot mug of tea

We have had a fun morning of keeping cats separate from each other and food...Cassi Cat came on heat yesterday so guess where she is off to now? Yep, the Vets. So she had to be starved overnight...boy did she make a fuss. Poor little mite. Crying or Very sad

Still, maybe Tom and Tabitha won't bash her up so much once she is neutered...the violence from Tabs has ramped up again this last week, I wonder if Cassi smelled different or something?

Stay warm and safe, everybody

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sunday

Very cold here again, slipping around all over the place in order to do anything outside. Another day of indoor chores with frequent trips outside to change frozen drinkers and check on the animals.

Cassi cat has taken to throwing herself around in a wanton manner, making wild suggestive vocalisiations......suspect puberty has hit! Guess who will be visiting the vets this week?

A very proud Compostgirl!




 




And here are some I made, earlier...



Whilst Compostgirl was making her purse, I was sewing  these from scraps and oddments. I like them :-)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Slushy Saturday

Well it is thawing a bit here, but still cold. Compostman has taken advantage of the bit of a thaw to go into town and stock up on some stuff....like fuel for the Generator, just in case..and to get more building supplies while they can get stuff out of the yard ( last week it was all frozen solid!)

He is also taking yet more rubble from the sitting room floor to the recycling site. It is amazing just how much is coming out of that room.....

I am ironing and sewing and tidying, as enforced house time means I can catch up on such chores. Compostgirl is reading. Cats are curled up on sofa, very bored with it all!

Hope everyone stays safe and warm.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Frosty Friday

I have a sinus infection I think, which is making going outside in the cold to do the chores very unpleasant indeed.

It is lunchtime (1.30) and it has only just got up to - 4 here outside, and it was - 11 last night! All three cats wre snuggled on our bed in the night.


I am now using warm water to put in the animals's drinkers as otherwise it freezes really quickly.  Have just given the hens some warm mash and a few treats, they are obviously really unhappy as I have only had 4 eggs today!

Later....

Compostgirl about to come home, think I will shut up the animals and then watch a dvd with her...feel like I have been punched in the face, and just want to sit down all the time...still did lots of decluttering for charity shop (when I can get to it, not going in today) and stuff for school fete.

Hens finally gone on strike at the cold, only had 4 eggs today...!


Hope everyone is staying warm and safe.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

An icy trip to Hereford.

Snow here, more of it, very cold indeed as well here.

We went into Hereford today to watch Compostgirl take part in a Singalong organised by Sing Up. Was wonderful but was in Hereford Shire Hall, a HUGE Georgian pile with huge windows and no heating discernable. It was absolutely freezing in there sitting watching for 2 hours!


We also went shopping and stocked up on various stuff, not panic buying as we have a lot of stored items here, but things which we might run out of if snowed in for a week or so ( as we were in Janueary this year)

Drive back was "interesting", there seem to be lots of people who don't know how to drive on snow and ice...which was worrying!


Off out to do animals now, and then, some hot tea!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Ice and snow and more ice...

More snow here today, its 13 C in the study and I am off to put on yet more clothes......I already have many many layers on but am still cold!

Downstairs is warm but the room I am in is not zoned for heat until later on in the day.

Have been struggling to keep the animal's water unfrozen here, I have to keep going out and changing the drinkers, bring the frozen up ones in to thaw and then go out with them later to swop with the now frozen up ones I put out an hour ago.....

As you may gather I am not a fan of snow and ice!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cold snap!

Snow, ice, bloomin, blasted stuff....Well Bah Humbug, is all I can say...

Am shattered here  after a very cold day. Life with livestock, even if only hens, gets to be so much more work with ice or snow. AND I also have numerous small pets in hutches outside to sort out now, so that adds in extra time...

Dunno how people I know with serious levels of livestock are coping but everything takes as least twice as long, what with more feed needed, thawing out water, keeping it liquid etc....

It was - 10 C overnight so we had all 3 cats piled on us all night -  they couldn't even be bothered to fight! And ice on inside of our bedroom window glass this morning...brrrr it never got above -5 here all day, which is seriously cold for November in the UK Midlands. Normally we do not get this sort of weather for another 2 months  and I am a bit worried about the stored crops in the garage shelves....so I went off to check for frost damage to the pumpkins etc.

The poor hens hate it like this, the ground is just too cold for them, I have put down another pallet for them to stand on as they hate the ground this cold....they go all pathetic looking and stand on one leg.

We are also ripping up the sitting room concrete floor now so all is mess and disruption in the house as well which adds in a lot of work!!

Still if the weather stays bad, we have heat, a generator, a woodburner, lots of food for at least 4 weeks of normal-ish diet etc ...and that includes animal food, fuel for cars etc....so it might actually be sort of OK-ish!


I am writing this now in the early evening because I have finally finished outside chores, which I have had to re do 3 extra times today as food, water needs re doing due to cold. Now all is done, frozen things thawed or drained down, stored veg wrapped up a bit more, cider wrapped up in bubble wrap to stop it freezing, small pets given extra hay , food, fresh water and their houses covered over etc etc .

So I can sit, and have a hot cup of tea and contemplate watching "Sweeny Todd" later on the TV, a rather gory film I think but it DOES have Johnny Depp in it... I think I deserve a treat after today!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

New member of the small pets gang


This is Crystal. She is a Dwarf lop rabbit who is about a year old. She joined us from a local small animal rescue charity and is to be a companion for Peter Rabbit.

Rabbit introductions can be easy but can also be fraught with difficulty, sometimes even a buck and doe will hate the sight of each other and NEVER make friends, so we took Peter over to the rescue place and let him and Crystal met up first. When they didn't try to kill one another, we brought Crystal home and she and Peter rapidly settled down together.















This is them in the kitchen, having a bit of a feed. They are sharing a big hutch and are now very happy together.

I am feeling pleased as I now have sorted out the small animals being lonely issue! Fudge the Guinea Pig has two male companions, Chalky and Snowy, to keep him company and he is a much happier looking and sounding little piggy as a result. And now Peter Rabbit has a friend as well.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Winter eggspectations....

I have seen a number of forum posters and bloggers recently, writing about their hens not laying in the winter. I must admit I feel everso slightly smug as yet again my feathery ladies are still laying and I fully eggspect them to carry on through the winter...

My 12 hens are still laying!  4 are in moult, the other 8 potentially laying hens are laying 6-7 eggs a day. A few of my hens are year old -ish, rest are 2 years old ish and the moulty ones are 3-4 year old-ish plus

I count my blessings every day when I go out to them. I think an egg is a miracle of nature, despite knowing the science and biology which causes it to be laid!

So, what do I do with my girls to keep them laying? I am giving them hot mash at about 9 am which is made of layers pellets and hot water with various extra stuff added, poultry spice or marmite or garlic powder or natural yogurt on different days  just to make it more interesting. I do this first thing in the morning, then they have dry pellets ad lib all day as is usual.

I also make sure I give them their corn ration at about 2 pm, so they have space to fill up their crops again with pellets before bed time, as I found if they had the corn too late they didn't eat any more pellets. The layers pellets contain everything hens need to be healthy and to lay eggs but tbh probably get a bit boring for a bird whose natural habit is to scratch around on the jungle floor eating all sorts  of stuff. Which is why I try to give them a bit of variety in their diet! BUT it is important that they eat a final crop full of layers pellets before bed time as that is what helps to make the next days lot of eggs.

The hens also go out in the wood for an hour or so as well between 2 ish and 4 ish (if the weather is OK) otherwise they are in their paddock which is pretty huge anyway and I make sure they have lots of stuff in the paddock (grass mowings, wood chippings, leaf piles) to scratch around in and find stuff to eat.

This all seems to be working and my  regime means I get eggs all winter from the girls...maybe a few less in Jan and Feb but still I would eggspect 6 eggs a day from the flock of 12, which allows for my flock containing old hens/young hens/off lay hens.

and no, I do not use any artificial lighting as I personally do not agree with tinkering with my hens natural body clock...but that is just me and if others want to that is up to them...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Random photographs of what I have been up to



Covering over the fallow parts of the veg plot with geo textile,



Teaching craft courses


 Clearing out our sitting room so it can be gutted and insulated and all sorts of stuff done to it by lovely Compostman



Trying to restore some order to the other rooms in the house, which have had to absorb a lot of extra stuff from the sitting room!


Fending off the hens from my chard patch!


Admiring some fabulous sunsets

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My how she has grown!




Cassi kitten has been with us for two months now and how she has grown!

She is the loveliest cat, very affectionate and plays mad games of chase with Compostgirl around the kitchen. She is still a little nervous of going outside, but has ventured out especially if we come too.

She is settling in with Tom and Tabitha now and mostly they ignore each other, or exchange nose sniffs, but the major fighting has stopped thank goodness!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Craft suppliers

I use a variety of suppliers for my various crafting needs, I get a lot of stuff from my local Scrapstore, but I do buy new as well. So here are some suppliers I use.


Making stuff, ideas

- http://www.allfreecrafts.com/
- http://www.enchantedlearning.com/
- http://www.essortment.com/family.html

Suppliers of craft stuff such as raffia, fabrics

- http://www.tts-group.co.uk/
- http://www.westmerciasupplies.co.uk
- http://www.yellowmoon.org.uk/

- http://www.bagnboxman.co.uk/
- http://www.theessentialscompany.co.uk
- http://www.calicocrafts.co.uk/

Monday, 22 November 2010

Twig stars

Dogwood (Cornus alba) comes in both red and green stemmed versions which make an outstanding display in the winter. The green leaves turn red or orange in autumn before falling and displaying the brightly coloured bare stems. Dogwood bends very easily and the bright colour and straightness of the twigs makes it useful in crafts, especially for making wreaths and baskets. I use it in my craft workshops to make wreath bases at Christmas and to make twig stars, wands and heart shapes at any time of the year. Willow is also a good choice of material.

How to make twig stars or star wands

1. Take a straight flexible twig and, working back from the tip, bend the twig about 15cm from the end. Then go back along the twig from this bend about 10 cm and bend it again.

2. Repeat measuring 10 cm backwards towards the thicker end and bending the twig 2 more times. Take care that the twig doesn’t snap while you work.

3. You should now have a twig divided up into 4 equal lengths and one slightly longer length at the very thinnest end.

4. Make a “4” shape with the first bends.


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5. Fold the rest of the bent twig back across the “four” to make a 5-pointed star.


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Weave the fine end in and out to create the star structure. Wind the fine end around the thicker stem and tie together with raffia or ribbon.


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6. If you can find a really long straight twig, make the star at the thinner end and you will have made a wand!



_________________

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Making twig hearts

Dogwood (Cornus alba) comes in both red and green stemmed versions which make an outstanding display in the winter. The green leaves turn red or orange in autumn before falling and displaying the brightly coloured bare stems. Dogwood bends very easily and the bright colour and straightness of the twigs makes it useful in crafts, especially for making wreaths and baskets. I use it in my craft workshops to make wreath bases at Christmas and to make twig stars, wands and heart shapes at any time of the year. Willow is also a good choice of material.


How to make a twig heart.

1. Take 2 twigs of roughly the same length (around 30cm or longer).

2. Fasten them together at the bottom, thickest end. (Using an elastic band first makes it easier to tie them )

3. Take 1 of the twigs and bend it part way along, and down. This is the curve of the heart and sets the size of heart you will make. Fasten the thin end into the elastic band holding the thick ends of the twigs together.


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4. Take the other twig and bend it part way along, and down in the same way, fastening the thin end into the elastic band holding the thick ends of the twigs together.


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5. You now should have a heart shape!

6. Adjust the shape of the heart until it is how you want it, then tie the thick and thinner ends together with your choice of ribbon or raffia. Trim the ends of the twigs to your desired length


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Variations

1. Take 2 bundles of 3 twigs, all roughly the same length. A mix of green and red is very effective.

2. Tie them together at the bottom, thickest end. (Use an elastic band first, to make it easier)

3. Take 1 of the twig bundles, plait the 3 twigs in that bundle before continuing as above in step 3.

4. Repeat the plaiting for the other twig bundle, before continuing as above in step 4.

5. You now should have a heart shape, with each half made of the 3 twigs plaited together.

6. Adjust the shape of the heart until it is how you want it, then tie the thick and thinner ends together with your choice of ribbon or raffia.

OR just use 2 bundles of equal length dogwood and make a heart as if using 2 twigs.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Salt dough crafts

Salt dough crafts

The art of making objects using salt dough has become very popular in recent years with the only requirements to get started in this folk art hobby are flour, salt, water and basic equipment found in the kitchen. This is how I do it and how I teach others to do it at my craft workshops

Things you need

a baking tray (covered with a thin layer of butter/oil to stop the decorations sticking)
paints and brushes (you can mix the paints with some pva glue)
a cocktail stick (for making the hole in the decorations)

A bowl to mix your dough
A rolling pin for producing smooth sheets of dough
Toothpicks or a small pointed knife for cutting and indenting details
An assortment of pastry cutters and moulds for decorative shapes

Basic Salt Dough

2 Cups of Plain Flour (not self-raising)
1 cup Fine grained plain salt
1/2 cup water at room temperature
Veg oil ( opt.)

Mix the salt and flour in a large bowl and then add the water. Knead the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. (The addition of 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil improves suppleness of the dough making it easier to work with). Cover with cling wrap to stop the dough drying out and let the dough sit for 30 minutes before using.
The dough is now ready to use. Fresh dough is best for modelling. However, if you find you have any leftover dough it can be wrapped in cling wrap or an airtight container and stored in a cool place for a few days.

When finished and happy with your results you can air-dry or bake your project in the oven.

MAKE SURE YOU MAKE A HOLE IF YOU WANT TO HANG IT UP!!

Ensuring your projects are correctly dried ensures they will last a long time so it is important that this is not hurried. Air-drying is suitable for flat, small pieces or for coloured pieces where baking will alter the colour of the finished project. Oven drying is the most popular method and requires careful attention to accurate temperature control to avoid burning. Bake for approx. 2 hours using a low temperature setting 50-70C for the first half hour then increase temperature slowly to 90-100C and cook until the piece is uniform in colour.

The dough is cooked when it hard and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off and leave in oven until cool. Any burns can be sandpapered off with fine- medium grade sandpaper. An emery board or small file can be used for delicate or intricate sanding on objects.

When thoroughly dry sand any imperfections. At this stage you can paint your projects then seal with a final coat of varnish. Your finished projects can be left unpainted but they must be sealed on all sides (including underneath) with varnish, gloss or matt, for protection otherwise they will not last long when exposed to air.

Using a polyurethane varnish on food coloured models instead of water- based varnish helps to intensify the colour.

Also, for the more impatient or short of time...

Microwave Salt Dough recipe

4 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1-1/2 cups of hot water

Directions:

Roll the dough thinly. Using a microwave-safe plate (not paper or cardboard), microwave a plate of your ornaments for 1 to 4 minutes, increasing the time by 1 minute increments and keeping a close eye on the microwave as the ornaments bake. Suggestions are to cook on High, but I have found medium or low, and slowly, gives the best result. Too rapid baking causes the objects to bubble up and distort. You also don't want to risk a fire! Let the ornaments cool completely before decorating, as before.

I have tried both of these recipies, the microwave one didn't work for me at all.

After making and drying out.


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After painting with acrylic paint, seen hanging on our tree.



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A Green Man I made last year.


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_________________

Friday, 19 November 2010

More knitting

This time it is a dishcloth from cotton yarn. I knitted this while watching TV.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

What do I do with all this compost?

So, after my last compost post you should all have an idea how make good compost (assuming you didn't, already :-)) )and all the things you could be putting in to make it work really well....

I removed the wooden slats from one of the bins the other day, to see how my friends the worms and insects and microbes were getting on with composting...and see what I found! Decomposing stuff up the top and then a beautiful layer of freshly made compost all the way down to the bottom of the box. Ah, the magic of compost. Throw in stuff which is waste and get out for free a valuable resource, which you would otherwise have to pay for!


But how do you tell when it is ready? And what do you do with it when it is ready in the bin, like this?

Well, your compost is ready when it looks dark brown and soil like and smells nice and earthy. It should also be slightly moist and have a crumbly texture.

It probably won't look like the compost (growing medium) you buy in the shops and yours will still maybe have twigs and eggshell in it but don't worry... it's still perfectly good to use and you can simply sieve out any larger bits and return them to your compost bin.

So, dig it out and if you can, leave it to mature for a month or two, as fresh compost can "scorch" soft plants if used immediately.

Your lovely compost is food for your garden and will help improve the soil structure, maintain moisture levels and keep your soils pH balance in check while helping to suppress plant disease. Compost has everything your plants need, including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, it improves your soil's condition and your plants and flowers will love it ( and you for giving them it!)



The compost at the bottom is ready. It looks like soil, smells sweet and has few "bits" left undecomposed in it. There may be egg shells and bits of twig left ( and corks!) but apart from that it has all turned into wonderful, rich compost.

Using your compost in the veg garden

Use about 1 wheelbarrow load per 5 sq m, applied in the spring and summer. Dig it in to the top 15 cms or leave it as a surface mulch. I apply my home made compost at a depth of about 3 cm on the soil but I have lots to spare. I often also put some on the autumn after lifting crops, I then cover with cardboard or geotextile and let the earthworms drag it down into the soil for me.

I also use a generous layer of my home made compost in the bottom of potato and bean trenches.

If you don't have enough compost to do all the veg patch, concentrate on the potato, bean, curcubit and green leafy veg areas. As part of a crop rotation your whole patch will eventually get some compost.

Another experiment in progress! As you know I make a LOT of compost...so I use these raised beds to put it in , grow in it and then at the end of the season put the spent compost on the veg garden and start again with filling the empty raised beds next spring.



SO...this bed has lots of lovely home made compost in it and I am using it to grow early spuds.


One advantage of doing this is that IF your compost still has weed seeds left, you can see them as they germinate and simply hoe or pull them out....



I also grow the indoor tomatos and peppers and aubergines in large pots standing in trays inside the Polytunnel. The reason being that the polytunnel (erected by the previous owners, not us!) was sited on a load of subsoil and rubble dug out from when the garage was built...so the ground is NOT suitable to grow directly into! Even *I* can't work any kind of miracle with it....

I use builders buckets with holes drilled in the base as large pots and plant into them, it works very well, and then the compost also goes on the veg garden at the end of the growing season.

I now grow exclusively in my own compost, in 2008 I experimented to see if my home made growing medium was as good as commercial peat free potting mix, and I found MY mix gave me earlier and better yields from the same sowings of the same varieties with identical treatment...so I now only buy in growing medium to sow seeds into. Once they are plants I will transplant them into my home made growing medium , of compost : loam: sand.

 





















In addition to making all this compost in bins I use lots of cardboard/paper to cover my plot when the soil is bare, to stop loss of precious nutrients and to provide some organic material as it rots down...I mulch directly with grass cuttings on fallow soil, and plant green manures WHEREVER I can to promote fertility and add humus to the soil.....

Other ideas for using your home made compost.

If you have plants in pots outdoors you could top dress the soil with a layer of home made compost. Take off the top few centimetres of existing soil and add your home compost. Leave a gap around soft stemmed plants. This will give your plants food and is a great way to make them more healthy.

Dressing your lawn with compost helps young grass take root and can make your garden healthier and greener. First, sieve the compost and remove any large twigs or other bits that have not quite broken down. Then mix it with the same amount of sharp sand : compost (to spread it more easily). You will need a layer of about 2.5cm. I use a stiff broom to brush it into the grass. Mature lawns can really benefit from this dose of nutrients but be careful as newly seeded or turfed lawns can be scorched by it.

Compost is great for your fruit trees and they will be very happy if you spread a thick layer of home made compost around the roots of the tree, as will any soft fruit trees. A 5-10cm layer around the roots will provide important nutrients and can protect against drought and disease. Avoid the base of the tree and do not spread too close to the trunk. This will also suppress weeds growing around them. Doing this once or twice a year will help your trees grow taller and bushier.

Using your compost as mulch is a great idea. Use your 'rough' compost (where not everything has completely broken down) over flowerbeds and around shrubs to help prevent soil erosion and replenish nutrients. Use a layer of 5cm, leave a gap around any soft stemmed plants and if you do this after rain or watering, you will help keep the moisture in the soil.

Digging a 10cm layer of compost into the soil prior to planting will help your new plants and flowers bloom. If you have already planted, simply spread a thin layer of compost-enriched soil around the base of the plants. Nutrients will work their way down to the roots. Remember to leave gaps around any soft stemmed plants.

Spread up to a 5cm layer of compost over your boarders to give them a feed! Earthworms will quickly like get to work mixing it in for you, or you can dig your finished compost into the soil prior to planting. Remember to leave gaps around any soft stemmed plants.

So, I hope this has given you some ideas for things to do with your home made compost and you will all be spreading your compost soon. After all just THINK of all the money saved by making your own soil improver and potting mix!

Also, just think of all the waste diverted from going into Landfill if you compost...think of all the Methane which our waste is NOT producing in the Landfill! Methane is 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide, remember!

And hopefully you will all have even better crops as a result of using your lovely home made compost.

For more ideas on composting, go here, or here,

Happy Composting :-)
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