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 work as an environmental educator, lecturer, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood . I am a Master Composter and have spent the last 11 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!


Thursday, 27 June 2013

House hen?

Reminder! RHS Hampton Court Flower Show ticket give away. To enter you must  leave a comment on the original blog post. Do this before midnight on 30th June please. Good luck!




This is Amber.  She loves me. She wants to be a house hen
.
 :-)

She waits outside the back door, choosing to be away from the flock, so she can see me and accompany me when I come out of the house. She then follows me around, bwarking and crooning and chuntering, in that way hens do. If I sit down, she comes and sits next to me. And if I go out in the car, she droops around looking sad, until I return. Then she is happy again. She is the sweetest little hen :-)


And if she can, she comes in the house.


And if I am upstairs, and she gets inside the house


She comes looking for me :-)



In other news, I picked my first tomato today


and the strawberry rush has begun :-)
 



Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A closer look at the bees :-)


Bumblebees nest in the bird box

 This is the Bumblebee nest on the side of the garage - it is absolutely heaving with bees coming and going :-)


 I took a short video of the activity


 If you can , zoom in on the hole...you will be surprised at what you see.



Edited to add - Apparently these are Bombus hypnorum - its a new ish Bumblebee which has gradually moved across from Europe to the UK - and it is also called the Tree Bumblebee - and likes nesting in holes in trees - which of course is what a nest box looks like :-)

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wilderness


A few photos of the wilderness which is our garden :)


Uncut grass and wildflowers on the lawn


There are three main patches of wildflower meadow in the garden area - we will scythe these when the flowers have set seed and then I will mow them again as normal lawn, but for now they are wild and wonderful :)



lots of wildflowers in the flower beds


Moving out into the woodland area the Elderflower is in full bloom now - I need to get on and make cordial!


Walking up the mown path in the pool wildflower meadow




One of the many nettle beds - nettles are very valuable to insect life as well s being a great compost fertility booster


At the back of the polytunnel is a comfrey bed, mixed with a very rambling rose it is smothered in bumblebees and other insects.



And the bumblebee nest on the garage wall is getting buzzier and buzzier (!)


I am making a new bee attracting flower bed and also sowing lots more wild flower seed everywhere - I aim to make Compost Mansion and the garden and grounds as wildlife friendly as I possibly can.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Busy unpacking and moving and digging


STILL TIME TO ENTER THE HAMPTON COURT DRAW! ->



Well the unpacking was the latest Rocket Gardens delivery - no sooner had I got delivery #2 and 3 in the ground than #4 turned up!


You all know the drill by now I guess - a box turns up here by courier, full of organically grown plug plants, packed in layers of lovely damp hay, which I then unpack and plant on



Lots of lovely layers of lovely plants :)







which I then moved into the polytunnel, while I find somewhere to plant them out.


It must be summer - the fan is back as a fixture in the polytunnel. It is activated when the temperature reaches a set ( by me) level inside. it really helps to keep things cooler during the day. Without it temperatures can soar to far too hot.


I will do a post about the Hot Bin and Hungry Bin separately, suffice to say I have been digging them out and am very pleased with what I have taken out :)




Saturday, 22 June 2013

Busy in the garden doing...stuff.

 Reminder! RHS Hampton Court Flower Show ticket give away. To enter you must  leave a comment on the original blog post. Do this before midnight on 30th June please. Good luck!

So today I started out with some mowing



but then the belts jumped so I had to stop. Compostman fixed it for me :-)


 

Compostman then got out the Allen Scythe and cut a path through the flower and hay meadow area.




The-place-where-the-greenhouse-will-be-one-day looks very lush with wild flowers;



I have seed bombed that area



and today I seedbombed this area



Ginger hens menacing Pearl ( the white pullet)



but they sorted it out peacefully in the end and shared a dust bath




My summer, outdoor potting bench :-)



I got a lot of plants potted on



HSL Asparagus lettuce. Note the arty late summer evening side lighting



The Cucamelons are thriving in the porch, as are various peppers and aubergines which are waiting to be planted out in the polytunnel



and yet more composting



I hope you have all had a good day :-)












 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Giveaway! RHS Hampton Court Flower show tickets/Ecover Garden Pack




As I said yesterday I am very excited to be going to the fantastic RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in July, thanks to Ecover UK giving me two tickets.

I can't wait to look around the Inspire Zone and see The Ecover Garden, as well as the inspirational Ecover planters that have been designed by eight gardening celebrities.

I also can't wait to see all the other wonderful show gardens and displays. I am so looking forward to going, especially as I am taking my one of my best friends with me so we should have a wonderful day out. AND I am going to meet up with some other gardening bloggers when I get there :-)

Thank you so much Ecover UK :-)

So, I'm going to go and have a great time, would you like to go to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, the world’s largest flower show, as well? And take a friend? Yes?


Well, two of you could.

 
I have two pairs of tickets to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to give away, thanks to my lovely friends at Ecover UK, who are sponsoring the Inspire Zone at the show.  Each pair of tickets are for any one chosen day between 9th-14th July.  

The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is on from 9th-14th July and you can find out where it is and more about it here 

And for a third person  as a runner up prize, an Ecover Gardening Pack





You can’t buy a ‘Garden Pack’ from Ecover, they are selling it as an exclusive at Hampton Court. It contains  Heavy Duty Hand Cleaner, Washing Up Liquid and Compost Bags


Its lovely - I know because I have got one ;-)

To enter the Giveaway there a few things you need to do.



You must leave a comment on this post AND it would be really nice if you also "followed" ( if you are not already a follower) The Compost Bin - please use the Google Friend Connect wigit on the RHS) 


Do this before midnight on 30th June please.
 
You must "follow" ( if you are not already a follower) The Compost Bin (please use the Google Friend Connect wigit on the RHS)   and leave a comment on this post. 


On July 1st I will draw three names out of my compost caddy wearing a blindfold. Or ask Compostgirl to do it!

I will announce the winners on the blog and on The Compost Bin Facebook Page.

Terms and Conditions for the Giveaway - please read!
 

  • To enter, you must leave a comment on this post
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entries close at midnight on 30 June 2013.
  • You must live in the UK and be over 18 years of age.
  • The ticket winners will need to email me before midnight July 2nd to say which day they’d like to go to the Show, so I can pass their details and chosen show day on to lovely Lauren at Ecover. The tickets will be waiting for them at Hampton Court for collection on the day.
  • The runner up prize winner needs to email me their address, so I can pass on their details to Lauren at Ecover to send out the Gardening Pack to them.
  • The ticket winners are responsible for getting to and from Hampton Court under their own steam and at their own expense.

  • No cash alternative is available.
  •  Ecover UK is the promoter of the competition.
  • The information you provide  will only be shared with Ecover in order to send you your prize. 


So, follow me ( if you are not already a follower) and leave a comment to be in with a chance to win.

And good luck! 




(I have altered this today 25/06/13 as I can't tell if you have done this if you are a Google+ member  and it got too confusing)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show here I come :-)


I'm so excited that thanks to Ecover UK I am going to the fantastic RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year :-)

It's the biggest flower show in the world! Fortunately for me for 2013 the Show has introduced themed zones to create different moods for visitors to enjoy. The new zones are Inspire, Grow and Escape. They have been planned to help visitors navigate their way more easily through the diverse and exciting range of exhibits. So hopefully I will be able to find my way around fairly easily.

Ecover UK are sponsoring the Inspire Zone which contains show gardens & trade stands. There are 8 Conceptual Gardens – designed to challenge design concepts, many with a sustainable theme. There are 4 Low Cost, High Impact Gardens – gardens designed on a budget of £7k, £10k, £13K and £15k. And there are Show and Summer Gardens – new trends in outdoor living, plus lots of other things for me to look at.

Award winning designer Matthew Childs is back at Hampton Court ( after winning gold last year) taking on the challenge of the show garden for Ecover. I am intrigued by his ideas and the design drawings I have seen; the main theme of the garden is ‘Water is Life’, highlighting the minimal impact Ecover products have on aquatic life, as well as the continuous effort Ecover makes in making a healthy and sustainable lifestyle an easy option. 



Can you spot the Ecover product shapes?

I can't wait to have a good look around the Inspire Zone and see Matthew's Ecover Garden, as well as the inspirational Ecover planters that have been designed by eight gardening celebrities. The planters will be on display throughout the Inspire Zone and will be donated to community-based projects after the show. I am particularly looking forward to seeing the Jekka McVicar and the Anne-Marie Powell planters.

I also can't wait to see The Bee, an amazing sculpture, opposite The Ecover Garden, made out of scrap materials and Ecover Plant-astic bottles. This giant bee and some stunning flowers, made by artist Ptolemy, has been designed to spread the word about the Ecover Message in our Bottle campaign. This very exciting art installation will be premiering at Glastonbury Festival and complementing the garden at Hampton Court, also.

I'm not going to Glastonbury Festival (shame) so I am really pleased I will still get a chance to see what The Bee looks like and how it is made :-) Ecover also have some good information on their web site about helping bees, with advice from Matthew Childs on planting and info from Buglife.

I also can't wait to see all the other wonderful show gardens and displays in the Inspire Zone. I am really looking forward to visiting the Escape Zone and seeing the Celebrity Henhouses ( I will not be bidding for one - honest!) and the Butterfly Dome, and in the Grow Zone looking at the plants ( and maybe buying some if I can carry them home?)

I am so looking forward to going to this event, especially as I had to miss the last event Ecover invited me to. I have been given two tickets so I am taking one of my best friends with me. We will have a long day as we are travelling by train (and water bus at the end!) but we should have a wonderful day out. Thank you so much Ecover UK :-)

I'm so excited!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Rocket Gardens Constant Garden - update on the plants and harvesting!


The weather here over the weekend was mostly ok, sunny and rainy on Saturday, Sunday was dull but dry so I spent a lot of the weekend planting up raised beds, re- potting plants into larger pots and generally doing lots of garden related jobs outside. When it rained I ducked inside the polytunnel to pot on plants - have I said how much I love my polytunnel? I think I have, a few times. 

A lot of the veg plants I planted out, or potted on, were the remains of my second and third delivery from my Rocket Gardens Constant Gardens selection of veg plants - I put them as small plug plants into pots where they have grown well but it is now time to put them outside in their final places in the ground. Today into the raised bed I planted out various brassicas, some celery, leeks, onions, chard and spinach, some french beans, beetroot and more salads. Several weeks ago I planted out onions and leeks (in another raised bed) and last week I put in the runner bean, pea, pumpkins and courgette plants.

All these plants are growing strongly and for several weeks now we have been eating salad and spinach or chard from the plants which were already in the garden or in the polytunnel (on my salad bar). I picked the first peas last night :-)/

As I said in my last post, I had to come up with some way to protect the raised bed I am planting them in and I am still very pleased with the results :-) It is easy to unpeg one side to plant more plants or to harvest some.



After all this activity I still had quite a few salad plants left over, so I came up with a way of using some "alternative" containers for planting them in. I know lots of people don't have the space to plant veg in the ground that we do here, so I thought it would be good to show how well plants grow in all sorts of containers, and not just plant pots!

I have a friend who gives me lots of these plastic mushroom trays which get used here for all sorts of things. They are quite shallow so I decided to grow some salad plants in them, which don't need a huge depth of soil.


 I lined the tray with newspaper, so the growing medium stays inside the tray.


I added the growing medium (a mix of Fertile Fibre coir based  and Moorland Gold reclaimed peat certified organic, but any good peat free potting or general purpose mix would do)


Looking down from above to show how I spaced the salads plants out. I was aiming for a "pleasing to the eye" pattern, which also gave all the plants space to grow.


As always I had feathery company around me. Sweetie the Speckledy jumped up to see what I was up to


 Naughty Sweetie! She tried to eat the herb plants I had just potted on! Gerroff!


Finished planter :-)



Lots of lovely cut and come again salad leaves, to add to the salad bar in the polytunnel..

I planted  up an unwanted wicker basket three weeks ago with celery plug plants from my Rocket Gardens delivery #3. I lined the basket with an old compost bag and punched some holes in it for drainage.

 


The celery is doing well and putting on lots of growth, and tastes delicious ( I sneaked a stem yesterday)


The Strawberries which came with the Small Fruit Garden are so wonderful! Juicy and plump and huge :-)


The fruit bushes from my Small Fruit Garden are all growing well, still in big pots as I have not yet decided where to site my new fruit garden. Need to think about that, so as to protect it from the chickens.

I am so impressed with the plants I have recieved from Rocket Gardens, they are all growing well and are tasty varieties which we enjoy eating :-) I am also very impressed with their customer service, as when I told them about a couple of plants which were a bit sad in delivery #3  I was sent replacements by next post and they thanked me for telling them, so they could do something about it :-) Which was nice :-)

I am expecting delivery # 4 of my Constant Garden in the next week or so, so I had better get back out into the garden and plant out the rest of the last one, and think where I want to plant out the next lot ;-)

I am enjoying being a Rocketeer!
UA-40361266-1