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!

Wednesday 31 December 2014

End of another year

So, that was 2014. I was going to write a full colour, links and photos year end review but I feel too tired to do it. I am so glad we have got past the Shortest Day as I loath the dark days of winter. The short, sunless days make me feel gloomy and tired and fed up and yes, depressed. I am not depressed for any other reason that I know of but every year I feel dreadful - I believe it is SAD and as soon as the days begin to lengthen I feel better :) But at the moment even trying to be up beat and positive is an effort.

But I have had a think about this year and actually just focussing on the great things that have happened this year has made me feel better :) so I will just highlight a few things from 2014.

Strange to say the biggest and most positive thing to happen to me was getting bitten at the end of June by a Blandford Fly and getting Very Ill Indeed as a result. I know that sounds a bit odd, but being in Hospital for three days and bed ridden for another two weeks and really very ill indeed gave me lots of time to think and ponder about  my health. So I did something about it at last - I went on a new way of eating and have lost six stone since 28th June. I also found out along the way that I have a huge problem with wheat and if I eat any now I am very ill indeed, so I don't. This has meant some modification to our diets so I can avoid wheat and gluten but it has been worth it in terms of health and well being.

Also during the Summer we as a family took up Archery. We now shoot several times a week and have made new friends, have our own bows and kit and are beginning to see improvements in our aim! Great fun and very good for posture and core strength.

I have also welcomed new chickens to Compost Mansions both large and very tiny indeed! The Seramas are a hoot - they are so funny and entertain us all enormously with their silly antics and fun. The Big Girls watch them with bemusement (I think) but continue to provide eggs and turning-over-the-veg-patch duties for us.

The three cats continue to delight and entertain and give love - and lots of dead things as "gifts". Tabitha in particular is a very good ratter and can catch several per day. Good puss!

Despite illness in the Summer I have been out and about a fair bit this year - both as a Master Composter promoting home composting; as a Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrator promoting home cooking and real food and with various Arts and craft events and on trips away.

I have also engaged more my artistic and crafty side and have had a go at both needlefelting with Gretel Parker  and silver jewellery making with Hannah Willow. I have also been to many more book launches and gallery exhibitions and charity auctions than usual and have come away with some beautiful unique items. Featuring several times this year have been trips to see artist and author Jackie Morris and Karin of Celestine and the Hare, fibre artist and creator of magical mayhem. Also visits to talented  friend Tamsin Abbott to hear her speak and see her in action at her workshop.

I had a memorable solo trip round Wales at the end of August where I sat by the sea, re visited beaches and sacred sites from my childhood, saw family, watched Ospreys, walked through Slate mines and visited blogging friends. I must go again, soon.

I also met many people this year who I have never met in real life but know well via the internet - I finally met up with John "Compost" Cossham and Deb Millar at the Green Gathering and fellow Forest School Leader Jan came for a visit on her way home to Scotland - I also had a great time meeting up with friends from THD forum at the Conference and at the Christmas get together in Birmingham.

Other stuff has happened here - Compostman and Compostgirl are well; the wood grew, the veg garden flourished and the polytunnel produced loads of food although all was less tidy than normal due to my enforced absence due to illness during July and most of August. The new patio and the flower beds around it were a great success though and I had a wonderful supply of cut flowers from the cutting garden as well as loads of herbs from the new herbery - it all looked fab as well from inside the house.

We still have not started on the pond filling/ digging new one yet though! I have also had a rethink about the new pond in the garden area - because I don't want to attract Blandford Flies and because we use the grass area to shoot over and a pond would stop it being used for Archery.

But this year has been mainly about changes for me; new friendships and moving outside my comfort zone a little; going off on a solo holiday, dramatically changing the food I eat, getting a new car (had the old one for 12 years so this was a big change for me!) and of course always learning new crafts.

I hope I continue to learn and grow and change in 2015. I do hope to visit more sacred sites in 2015 than I managed this year; I want to go back to Avebury, see some long barrows, Silbury Hill again and hopefully re visit Stonehenge now it is less cluttered by a road!  And I must finish some of the WIPs in the quilting and crochet piles! I also have jewellry making kit to play with, now ;)

One thing is sure life is never dull here.

I also hope I meet up with more of you in 2015, I love meeting up with blogging buddies so please if you are in my area do get in touch and let's try to meet up :) If you "do" Facebook and want to friend me personally (as opposed to the Compost Bin Fb page)  - send me an email with your real name so I recognise you when the friend request comes in, otherwise I won't know who you are :)

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2015. xxx

Wednesday 24 December 2014

merry whatever to you all :)

Sadly I did not win the final of the Plant Me Now Battle of the Baskets, but I made the final and hopefully people will have read my blog post about why I designed the basket the way I did.

Thank you all who voted for me - I love you for helping and supporting me xxx

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, Winterval, Hannukah etc or what I personally celebrate  - a Festive Yule!

Looking forward to the Return of the Light in 2015 :)

Love you all :)

Compostwoman xxx

Saturday 20 December 2014

LAST DAY to vote for me in the Plant Me Now hanging Basket competition.

Ok lovely blogging friends - I made it to the final of the @PlantMeNow design competiton with my insect attracting hanging basket design!

Thank you if you voted for me in the semi final and PLEASE do so again in the Final, share with your friends, tweet the link etc etc My design is Summer Scent-sation

Here is the link to vote

Plant Me Now competition voting page on Facebook 

If I win this competition my design will go into production in 2015 and be offered for sale by Plant Me Now :) I don't get anything from the sales, just the honour of being the winning design and the knowledge that my insect attracting hanging basket design will be on sale :)

Wednesday 17 December 2014

I'm in the final! Please vote for me in the @PlantMeNow hanging basket competition

Ok lovely blogging friends - I made it to the final of the @PlantMeNow design competiton with my hanging basket design!

Thank you if you voted for me before and PLEASE do so again,share with your friends etc etc My design is Summer Scent-sation

Here is the link to vote.

Plant Me Now competition voting page on Facebook 

If I win this competition my design will go into production in 2015 and be offered for sale by Plant Me Now :)

Friday 12 December 2014

PLEASE vote for my insect attracting hanging basket design in the @Plantmenow Battle of the Baskets!

Plant Me Now creative blogger challenge.

Back in October I was contacted  by Plant Me Now - one of the UK’s leading plant and gardening suppliers -  to join in an invitation only, creative blogger challenge. The challenge was to design a virtual concept for a mixed summer hanging basket, creating a blog post to talk about my flower and colour choices and how I would plant it up in a 30 cm rattan hanging basket.

I wrote about my design HERE

Well, my basket has been selected and is on Plant Me Now's Facebook page up against another design in an elimination voting round. Please, if you "do" Fb, would you go and vote for my design? It is called Summer Scent-sation.

Here is the link to the competition voting page. You can vote once per day for today, tomorrow and Sunday.

Thank you!

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Visit to Bisley Community Composting site

I had a great trip out last week :) I went with fellow Master Composters and council officers to see Bisley Community Compost site. 

 Sited next to a village allotment site

I have serious compost envy, and I don't say THAT very often!

The Compost Bin features as a top 20 UK gardening blog.

I feel very pleased today :) I was asked a few weeks back if I could provide a seasonal gardening tip for Grabco, a grab hire and aggregate company based in the SE. I often get asked to do this, so I sent them a tip (compost related, of course) and thought no more about it :) Today  I have found I have been included in their Top 20 UK Gardening blogs :)

What Grabco say (link to article here)

Do you love gardening? We do! That is why we have picked our top 20 UK gardening blogs to share with you. Each of the blogs below contain wonderfully detailed posts on a range of gardening subjects so you will never again be short of inspiration! Also if you ever have a question you can't answer, chances are one of the blogs below already has your topic covered! We have also included social media and RSS links so that you can keep up to date with the gardening experts on our list.
We would also like to say a big thank you to the handful of bloggers who agreed to share an Autumn/Winter gardening tip exclusively with our website visitors! We would love to know your thoughts!
So here are (in no particular order) our top 20 UK gardening blogs that you MUST check out....
And then there are lots of lovely blogs to read - some are old friends - you will recognise their names from my sidebar over there -> but others are new to me so I have had a lovely time reading them :)

GRABCO are one of the leading suppliers in Essex, Hertfordshire and London for:
  • Grab Hire
  • Premium Topsoil and Compost
  • Sand and Gravel
  • Mini Digger and Dumper hire
  • Site Clearance and Groundworks

    Now, if any of you are wanting such services they have teamed up with The Compost Bin to offer you, my readers, the following special offers:

    15% off economy screened topsoil collected. Or we can deliver within 15miles of our yard.
    15% off sharp sand collected. Or we can deliver within 15miles of our yard.


If you are interested in this offer click through to the offer page using THIS LINK. No idea if any of you can use this offer and I am not involved in any way other than providing the link, but I thought some of you might find it helpful :) Enjoy :)

Sunday 30 November 2014

Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fair

On the Sunday of Compostgirls birthday weekend we went to Ludlow. We knew there would be loads of people trying to park in the town so we parked outside  and had a pleasant walk in through the streets

 Lots of street entertainers were there - this lady was an Ice Queen statue - and very good she was! Until she moved, which was a bit of a surprise :)


 Lots of stalls in the Castle square, but we wanted to get into the main event which was being held in the Castle proper.

 Fabulous displays by re enactment groups, and loads of people demonstrating living history.

Compostman and Compostgirl went up to the top of the tower - I don't like heights so I went shopping :)

 At the end of the day we had fun watching Knights of Plantagenet re enact a fight between the English and the French. Very realistic fighting and I bet they had bruises on their bruises that night!


We had a good day out but I was jolly cold at the end and glad to get home and light the fire.

Monday 24 November 2014

Crickhowell outing - with Tigers and Weasels and Bears and much choklit...and with Jackie Morris and Celestine and the Hare and other friends :)

On Sunday we all had an outing :) Compostman, Compostgirl, Betty Sloth Bear and me :)  After archery at Mordiford we drove over the border into the Land of My Fathers, more specifically to lovely Crickhowell in Wales.

We had an excellent lunch at The Bridge End Inn and then wandered up the hill from the riverside to the even more excellent and very lovely bookshop Book-ish.

Where Jackie Morris and Karin from Celestine and the Hare had been holding court since mid morning.

They are twins, separated at birth and by time, space and different mothers *grin*. They were wearing matching faux fur hats (from SpiritHoods) and matching jumpers (no idea where they came from but I loved them and want one  :)  )

Panda, Mary, Emily and assorted weasels caused mayhem. 

We had such fun in Book-ish - it is an excellent indie bookshop and we loved looking around. Tiny, but perfectly formed and with space for a passel of norty weasels re enacting nursery rhymes :)  Emma, who owns it , was lovely :)

I bought some books which Jackie Morris and Nicola Davies signed for me :) The Promise is lovely and published by Walker Books

Lord of the Forest
is simply beautiful. As was the beautiful little drawing Jackie did on it, along with her signature :)

Compostgirl went on a much needed choklit  run to Black Mountain Gold Chocolate with lovely publisher Janetta Otter Barry.

I also bough some more Wentworth jigsaws  - they are wonderful and the 40 piece ones make great stocking fillers :)

I may also have come away with another Celestine and the Hare felty creation.  No idea how that happened *whistles innocently* Meet Tiger Tim :) He came home in my bag :) Rarrrh!

We also had a wander around the ruins of the Castle :) before heading home :)

Jackie has just had a piece published in The Guardian "How to draw a panda" and it is lovely :) Go and try it for yourself :)

As always a delight to see Jackie, Karin and we made some new friends, we met up with Jules who blogs here and is lovely. She now has a Norty Weasle of her own ! Good luck with him Jules :)

Friday 21 November 2014

Hereford Contemporary Craft Fair.

Last Saturday we spent a lovely afternoon in Hereford at this event. Went especially to see Tamsin Abbott's display but were also entranced by some of the other exhibits.

Tamsin makes the most wonderful stained glass items. I have a small item at home but I wish I could own all these!

This wooden bowl with resin inlaid panel was made by a very clever process. You can find out more about Ben the artist on his website.

Fab British fleece felt bags & eco print silk scarves from Claire Cawte


I loved this cabinet by Andy Tobin

Beautiful baskets made by Jenny Pearce. I went on one of her basket making weekends a few years ago :)

Thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Courtyard to see this event.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Tidying up the garden

It has been so wet and dull here recently :( I loathe days when there is no sunshine, I don't mind rain but gloom makes me gloomy.


So I decided to get outside and have a bit of a tidy up.

This bit of path is flooding so Compostman  lifted the slab and dug out a gravel filled soakaway underneath it. We also cut back all the dead plants and swept up the path.

 The lean to was in a right mess, full of all sorts of clutter. I cleaned out the double hutch and re instated Juniper the guinea pig in there for the winter as it is insulated and has a cosy cover to keep her warm. The Seramas were in there originally, but now live in the polytunnel

 I also put things away, threw things away and did a lot of recycling to make the lean to a tidy, workable space again as we do work in it out of the rain a lot.

 Much better!

 Then it was onto the chickens, I cleaned out the big girls house and put down more wood chips in the Mega Hen Pen. I also cleaned out their drinkers and feeders and topped them up with fresh food and water. I also gathered the eggs  - thank you girls :)

The Seramas live in the polytunnel now; I did have them free ranging in there in the day and shut in the Broody Arc at night but it is a bit small so I decided to move the smaller hen run and Eglu into the polytunnel so they would have a more spacious run and  the Eglu to sleep in to keep warm. Juniper also has her run in the polytunnel and so can have a run around undercover.

But first, I had to make some space!

Algy the Serama cockerel always wants to see what we are up to, he is such a friendly little chap :)

As you can see in an earlier photo the big girls are laying well but the littlees had not provided any eggs for a few days and here is why!

Someone has been creeping into this tangle of old plant to lay :)

Much tidier and now the Seramas not only have a warmer house to sleep in but a much bigger run.

I felt much happier after doing all this work :)

Monday 17 November 2014

Plant Me Now creative blogger challenge.

Back in October I was contacted  by Plant Me Now - one of the UK’s leading plant and gardening suppliers -  to join in an invitation only, creative blogger challenge. The challenge was to design a virtual concept for a mixed summer hanging basket, creating a blog post to talk about my flower and colour choices and how I would plant it up in a 30 cm rattan hanging basket.

I must admit I was taken with the idea, not least because, after the pleasure I took from the patio pots I planted up this year, I actually do want to have some hanging baskets around. It also sounded like a bit of  fun, so I told the nice man at Plant Me Now I would have a go:)

I started off looking for plants on line as well as searching through a lot of books. I wanted to make my hanging basket both beautiful to look at AND very attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects. I wanted strong colours of pink and purple, with trailing foliage. I also wanted some scent!  So not much to ask for :)

Normally I would have a good idea which plants I wanted to use because I would have some to look at, but as it is Nov and this is a virtual hanging basket I have to use my imagination. I had a good look at various websites selling plants and seeds and I also had a look at various hanging basket displays on line to get a feel for what could be achieved. I printed off some images of  plants and then tore them into strips to play around with the arrangement.

At times like this I wish I had a super duper graphic design package on my computer! But my torn up strips did give me a feel for the layout I was after.

Next I drew my design on paper and coloured it in so I had a rough idea what it would look like.

I normally plant up containers by eye, judging how many plants to put in from experience of their growing habit but for this I am going to put in a few more "virtual plants" that I would normally - when I make the basket up for real I can always trim them back or even remove one or two later if the hanging basket looks too crowded.

I have gone for a mauve and a pink  Trailing Verbena



 and Nasturtiums in jewel shades of pinks and gold flowers as contrast, this is Summer Carousel

along with trailing Nepeta Hederacea as an added foliage backdrop to set off the rich colours of the flowers. The leaves are scented so I am really pleased to have both colour, scent and movement in my basket.

   Nepeta Hederacea

I have a Fuchsia as a fantastic centre piece, which has an unusual deep burgundy corolla and deep pink sepals.

I also am deliberating about adding in another trailing fuchsia (Buds of May)  in different shades of mauve and pink. I love these colours and as it will be hanging in *my* patio I can please myself, but I am finding it difficult to decide if the planting will be too crowded if I have three fuchsias in the middle  :) In the end I decided to have several as I can always take them out if they are too crowded.

All of these flowers are rated highly as bee/butterfly/insect attracting flowers so I am hoping my hanging basket will be humming with activity next summer.

Next I have to think about how to plant up my hanging basket. It is easier to plant them if you place the basket in a bucket to keep it steady. The rattan basket I have to use is already lined to provide a water reservoir so I will  line the bottom of the basket with a circle cut from an old wool jumper to retain more moisture. I will then half fill it up with peat free growing medium and some of my worm compost.

I will plant the centre fuchsia first, and then arrange the other plants a pattern, filling the basket after to near the rim with my growing medium/work cast mix.

I will then carefully hang the basket on a securely fixed wall mounted bracket which was designed to take the weight of a hanging basket - they can be heavy when the soil is moist!

The basket will then be given a very good drink of water and I will make sure I water it regularly. One tip to save water - have other pots or troughs underneath to use the water which drips out from the bottom of the basket so it does not go to waste.

It is also important to feed a hanging basket regularly - I will use my home made worm and comfrey tea  and add it to the watering can as a regular liquid feed. It is also important to regularly deadhead plants to prolong the flowering season - making sure all the dead flowers and foliage go into the compost, of course!

I am looking forward to being able to make my design a reality in 2015. Plant Me Now will shortlist two of the designs,  which their Facebook fans will then vote on to decide on their favourite to go into production for Summer 2015. I will let you know how my design gets on :)

Written in association with PlantMeNow