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 29 April 2014

First tomato flowers and lots more tomato plants

 #tomatoplants #polytunnel

Today I have been in the polytunnel standing here

 Pricking out and potting on a lot of these. 

If you want to know how I do my potting on of tomatoes there is a "How to" guide up the top or you can find it here. I have done more than 100 plants now.

These are much larger plants which I sowed the seed for on 2nd Feb this year - These are early varieties, Latah, Salt Spring Sunrise, Costaluto Genovese and Yellow Perfection.

I have already planted some out into their final positions in the polytunnel and they have flowers on them.

but there are lots more plants waiting for me to get on and finish clearing up and sorting out the last bit of the polytunnel. Better get on with it then.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Come on a Bluebell walk with me :)

 @moorswood #bluebells

After some heavy rain we had a break in the clouds so a walk in the wood called.
Wellies on, raincoat donned, so off we go! Down into the wood past the hens who were not impressed I did not let them out to join us.

This patch of bluebells had been rolled on by something - maybe a badger? or maybe just the rain beating them down. Who knows?

There is a very large patch near the log circle  which looks stunning in a shaft of sunlight breaking through the trees above.

No fire lit today, lets have a sit and listen to the bird song; can you hear the Cuckoo calling and the Green woodpeckers drumming?

The leaves are opening in the canopy; soon it will be dim and cool and green down in the log circle with dappled shade and patches of sunlight.

More blue, such a wonderful scent!

Wild honeysuckle - Dormice use it to make nests like little woven basket cups

Looking back up towards the house

That patch of blue is getting nearer...

Lots growing on the ground level - here with the Bluebells are Ivy and Herb Robert - a very "aromatic" plant! it grows in the polytunnel and is very stinky strong smelling.

More and different ferns are slowly moving into the wood

And back to the house, pausing to let out the hens and collect eggs.

The bluebells are much earlier this year - I looked back through my photos yesterday and realised they were out like this on 20 May in 2013! Delayed due to the very cold winter we had in 2012 - 2013 I suspect.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed a virtual walk in the wood with me.

Friday 25 April 2014

The kale is now over but the roses bloom

The title sounds like it ought to be a proverb or a password or something! But it is actually just what was happening today.

Today was another fine day so I was very busy in the garden and polytunnel. I picked the last of the polytunnel Kale

I am now planting out various overwintering perennials into the garden - see these rose bushes on the front right?

While overwintering inside the polytunnel they had produced the most beautiful blooms all winter, I cut these and have had them inside the house since 20 th April - they are still wonderful.

The rose bushes have now been pruned and will stand on the patio when the weather warms up a little more.

I planted out some of the tree peonies I grew from seed, or from tubers moved when we were doing the patio, there are loads more plants waiting to go into this now cleared bed.

And I made a start on clearing out the dead stuff from the "Hampton Court" flower bed I made last summer

The garden looks particularly pretty at this time of year :)

I also thought I would share with you the breakfast routine here at Compost Mansions. We come downstairs and make breakfast and then the ravening hordes gather,

awaiting tit bits of marmite toast :)

Thursday 24 April 2014

Woodland play session

#forestschools #play

Earlier in the week we had a play session in the Wood, we were blessed with glorious weather and had a lovely day.

Lots of hot drinks brewed on the fire

I showed everybody how to make fire with a fire steel and char cloth

 and then every one tried to light a fire of their own without using matches.

Everyone managed it without using matches and they were all very pleased with themselves - as they should be  - it is not as easy as it looks!

We had lunch and hot chocolate and then I then showed them all how to make char cloth in the hot embers of the fire, using a lidded can, with a hole in the lid (very important!)  and cotton rags. Char cloth is useful as it is really easy to get an ember going when you strike a spark onto it. You can make charcoal sticks for drawing in the same way

The children ran around and played lots of hide and seek games and built a den and gathered firewood and enjoyed themselves - no mobiles or games consoles in sight!

The adults sat around the fire and chatted and listened to bird song.

Everyone had a great time :)

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Book review "Crochet - the complete step by step guide"


I love crochet, but then you all knew that, didn't you? So it was hardly surprising that I spotted an advert for this book in Mollie Makes magazine # 37. I had bought the Mollie Makes magazine because writer, needlefelter and artist Gretel Parker featured on the cover and I was off to her workshop at Cinderhill Farm the next day.

The front cover image of this book is very memorable and eye catching and is what I remembered spotting in MM so kudos to the art editor, photographer and whoever made the throw most of all! I thought at the time that this looked a good book to add to my collection and that I might save up and get Crochet (or drop lots of hints before my upcoming birthday).

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I was sent a copy of Crochet to review along with the Small Spaces Big Ideas book I wrote about here

The DK website says of this book

Crochet is the go-to crochet compendium, with more than 80 crochet projects, from simple flower blankets to crocheted baby bonnets and chunky scarves. Crochet uses step-by-step techniques and photography to cover basic stitches, such as chain stitches and treble crochet, and includes helpful practice projects to build your confidence, before embarking on more adventurous and impressive crochet patterns. Beginner crocheters are clearly led through every stitch or if you are already familiar with knitting and other crafts you can pick up a great new skill quickly to create beautiful crochet projects, such as cute gifts, things to wear and items for the home. Crochet is the perfect guide for crocheters of all levels of ability.

Having had a good look through this book over the last couple of weeks and tried out a few of the stitches and ideas I can only conclude one thing - this book is excellent and DK are absolutely correct in what they say

I am a moderately experienced crocheter (some stitches at least) and there were loads of interesting ideas for me to try in this book. The how to pages are detailed and clear and I was able to learn some advanced stitches to try out, but if you needed to learn the basics it is all there with very clear illustrations. Patterns and charts are all explained as are the tools you need and different yarns to try.

I loved the pages about alternative yarns - as I am in the middle (still!) of a crochet rag rug it was great to see this included and the metal wire crochet had me dashing to sort through the Cupboard of Doom to find my stash of wire and seed beads.

There are lots of ideas for real, proper, useful things to make ( I loved this wrap!) 

and also different types of "granny squares" to try, not just the usual square but hexagons and suchlike.


as well as bags and rugs and sweaters and cushions and hats and ...oh so many lovely things!

In conclusion - if I were made to chose just only one book on Crochet to keep from all the ones I have, this would be it. I think it is really good, with wonderful illustrations and photographs and a very good contents list and index. 

I love it. 

DK Publishing - Author
Publisher: DK
Hardback : 03 Feb 2014

With thanks to Vivienne  at DK for sending me the books :) I did not get paid to write this post apart from having the book to keep.

Monday 21 April 2014

Getting very busy in the garden (!)

We have had a week without rain recently and the ground finally has began to dry out - it could still become very wet very fast if we get any more rain, but for now both Compostman and I decided we could get digging.

We only have leeks, parsnips, spinach and various kales left in the ground in the veg patch and it all looks a bit sad at the moment - it has been just too wet to do anything as even tidying up would involve compacting the very wet soil. So we didn't.

 But today the sun shone, the birds sang and it was glorious to be outside :)

 After lifting last years onion plastic and doing some weeding in the raised beds we got cracking barrowing leaf mould over from by the compost area to enrich the beds.

 Compostman laid out the onion plastic on the new onion bed - I had previously enriched this area with compost and lots of wood ash, before he laid down the plastic and pegged it out.

Then he planted onion sets one per hole in the plastic. I meanwhile planted potatoes in the two raised beds. One had Maris Peer and the other Vanessa - both organic seed  potatoes of course. I believe it is "traditional" to plant potatoes on Easter Day, although I can't see why as Easter can be very early or very late to be planting them?

 We stopped and had a cup of tea while sitting on the bench at the top of the wood and admired the view down into the wood,

And across into the garden and orchard.

I have lots of other veg plants growing in the polytunnel but even so it feels good to get stuff planted in the ground :)

Saturday 19 April 2014

Wood stuff

Today we spent most of the day in the wood doing all sorts of ground work and stuff. We had a lot of fun as well work can be fun you know!

Such a lovely view as we walked into  the wood

How high?

We cooked lunch on the campfire and had hot chocolate and coffee with our sandwiches

At the end of the day we had cleared up and made the Forest School site  all tidy and clean

ready for the course I will host next week :)

Friday 18 April 2014

Hungry Bin and Can O Worms sort out

@hungrybin @omlet @wiggled

I posted a couple of days ago about the HotBin sort out and I have now sorted out the various wormeries which live by the polytunnel as well. One of the reasons I got my hands so dirty yesterday :)

I first emptied out the Can o Worms wormery, bought from Wiggly Wigglers many years ago now and still going strong! I harvested three bucket fulls of lovely worm compost


I then emptied out the Hungry Bin tray and got another bucketful from that.

I don't need the compost just yet so I used  a spare CoW I got from Freecycle to store the compost in, five trays full of worm compost - that will allow it to dry out a little and I can use the worm juice in the polytunnel.  I added a top tray with the contents of the kitchen caddy so any remaining worms will move up into the top tray out of the finished compost.

Looking into the Hungry Bin this shows that worms do not eat compostable caddy bags - these obviously need to go into a compost bin for other compost creatures to munch at them. I have added a caddy at the foot of the Hungry bin so we all remember to put the bags in there.

Job done. You can see the orange rubbish bits bucket on the  far left hand side then moving to the right, the "compost storage" Can o Worms, next to it is the "working" Can o Worms wormery, next to that is the Hungry Bin wormery, then the caddy I have put down for the compost caddy bags collection, then the HotBin and the plant hardening off bench with some brassicas waiting to be planted out in the ( newly dug) veg patch. Finally the wooden bench with cold frame on top, containing various perennial plants waiting to be planted out into the new Bee attracting bed by the House.

I got a lot of work done in an afternoon. This area tends to be a bit of a dumping ground ( the outdoor equivalent of the Study of Doom!) and so it was good to sort it all out. Now this area is nice and tidy again.