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 8 November 2012

How to identify Chalara ash dieback

Chalara fraxinea is a disease that has decimated Ash tree species throughout Northern Europe, already affecting over 90% of Ash trees in Denmark and Sweden and is present as far as Belgium. Until recently the UK was unaffected, but it now seems that imports of Ash saplings have released the disease into the wild, and at least two outbreaks have been spotted in wild woodland in Norfolk & Suffolk.

This is very bad news indeed. There are about 80m native Ash trees, making up 30% of our indigenous deciduous woodland, so there are very serious ecological consequences if the disease is not contained.
Spores can spread about 20 miles, and it could be as bad as the Dutch elm disease which hit Britain in the 1970s and all but wiped out that native tree species from our landscape. More about the science here.

I wish I could check our Ash trees  but virtually all the leaves have now come off now after we had strong winds a week ago. I went for a wander with my binoculars to see if I could spot any lesions etc in the trees themselves, but as a lot of our trees are Ash mixed in with other species, I couldn't really tell much.

I think I am just going to
have to wait until new leaf burst in spring shows more signs of dieback ( if it is there in our wood) .

This is a really useful video of what to look for in Ash.


  1. Have been watching this with concern - first the horse chestnuts, now ash trees. What in the world is going on?!

  2. Hello Compost Bin,
    This is just a little rant from me...
    I am baffled once again at our Government's incompetance to deal with Ash dieback disease. They have known for quite aome time that the disease is widespread in Denmark, Sweden and other parts of mainland Europe so why oh why did they not ban imports of ash saplings? At least they would have been seen to have made an effort. The mind boggles and the heart weeps for now instead of prevention we have to cure or worse still watch our beloved Ash trees wilt and die before our very eyes. So so sad.
    Bye the way I have only just discovered your website whilst searching for growing watercress. It's great, well done, you are an inspiration. Keep up the good work.
    I will be visiting you regularly from now on.
    All the best
    Sally, Isle of Mull

  3. Sally, Rose I totally agree with everything you say.

    I am so woried about the Ash tres in our wood and the wider environment, but can do absolutely nothing to help or protect them.

    Not sure if we have it or not tbh - but suspect EVERYWHERE will get it very soon - at least we do not sell our felled wood, so if we have to fell because of disease, we can stack it and eventually burn it. But I suspect a lot of wood will get incinerated on site rather than be used for fuel because no movement of timber will be allowed ( for quarantine reasons)

  4. Thanks for posting this, I didn't really know what to watch out for. Can't believe that even though we're an Island we couldn't have stopped this. I grew up in a landscape without elms and now my daughter might grow up in one without ash. Terribly sad, hope we can control it.

  5. I have just recently learned of the benefits of having a compostbin. Do you have any suggestions for something easy to start with?

    Landscaping Kensington CT

  6. How incredible that there is an App for that!! Technology can really be used for good in the right hands ;)


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