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!

Monday 9 June 2014

The Garden Festival, Hellens Manor

@Garden_Festival @GardenOrganicUK #mastercomposters

I have spent the last two full days being Compostwoman on the Master Composter stall at The Garden Festival at Hellens  We had a really good weekend despite very heavy rain on Friday and Saturday, which made it very muddy underfoot. 

Luckily for me I had lots of fellow Master Composter volunteers with me on our stall over the weekend. On Saturday I had the company of Christine J (plus lovely dog) all day and Christine E and her friend in the afternoon. It was lovely to see them all, as it is some time since we last met up and in the lulls I was able to catch up with all their news :-)

Our main stall table has lots of leaflets on how to make compost; the discount compost bins and wormery available; information about Garden Organic; samples of coir based growing medium (peat free alternative); free seeds and pencils to hand out; and examples of what can be composted.

The Festival had wonderful stalls and entertainment and surroundings, there was loads of mud underfoot but great fun was had by all.

Towards the end the sun came out and I went to check out the new Stables building where I would be giving my talk on Sunday. It is a lovely restoration and is next to some beautiful gardens. I watched a drystone walling demonstration and sat in the sunshine to drink some tea while looking out over this bit of the gardens.

At the end of the day lots of people had to be towed out of the muddy car park but I made it out ok and got home at 7 pm very hot, tired and muddy but a shower and some dinner and a sit in the garden with my cats and hens soon perked me up again. I sorted out new leaflet supplies and my laptop and projector and put them in the car, ready for another early start on Sunday.

Sunday was a better day weather wise, intermittent rain but not so heavy and in between the sun shone.  I was up and out of the house early and got to Hellens for 9 am ready for a 10 am start. I was helped on Sunday by fellow Master Composters Paul, Christine J again, Janice and Nina which meant there were enough of us so we all got to leave the stall and have a look around the Festival. 

I bought some lovely organically grown plants from The Cottage Herbery. They are based locally and grow their plants in Fertile Fibre coir based compost, indeed they originally founded Fertile Fibre before handing it on to Matthew at Withington Court. I always enjoy talking to them about plants and they are very knowledgeable :-)


We had a number of children who were very interested in looking for creatures in the compost samples I had brought along ( dug out at 7 am that morning!)

Then after lunch (pork roll from The Squeaky Pig Company  and Noggin Farm  - yum) it was time to get ready for my talk. I got everything set up in the cool and dark of The Stables which was a lovely contrast after the now scorching heat outside.

My talk on "Gardening with wildlife in mind"  eventually went well, once the audience found the building where I was and I got the AV equipment to do my bidding. My talk is illustrated with lots of photos from my garden and wood - you would probably recognise many of them from this blog and the audience seemed to enjoy what I had to say, which is always a relief! 

I had a 1 hour slot to complete my talk and answer questions, but then at the end I found 10 people waiting outside, who had mis-read the programme and thought I was giving another talk at 3.30. I wasn't, but I took them into the gardens next to the Stables and talked for 10 mins about the wildlife friendly nature of the planting and landscaping. They seemed happy with this :)

I also met up with Karin from Celestine and the Hare who had brought along Emily the bear. Lovely bear and lovely lady, we went and had tea and cake :)

Emily trying to hide in my box

Emily with my family, who came mid afternoon for a look around and to meet me for tea.

After tea, cake and Emily cuddling, it was time to say goodbye to my family and friends and get back to the stall, and then after the Festival had closed it was time to pack up the stall and somehow fit it all back into my car (which I still have not yet unloaded!) Unfortunately the heavens opened again and I got very wet while packing up the car.

In total over the weekend we spoke to around 120 people (maybe more, I wasn't there all the time).  Fewer than last year but the weather was really bad so I am not surprised. Lots of people who were all wanting to know more about composting - how to get started, how to do it better, what to do with the compost they make. Hopefully they feel more informed, now.

The organisation at this event was very good, despite some very trying circumstances. I have been going to this festival now for 8 years and it is always really good.

I have had an excellent weekend of volunteering, with a group of friends, at a fabulous venue with excellent organisation, to promote a subject we are all passionate about.  I also got to talk to lots of friends, old and new, and eat a lot of cake :)

Can't really get much better than that, I think :-)

Friday 6 June 2014

The weekend starts and farewell Blondin the cockerel.

 Beautiful day here today, fine and sunny and warm with a hint of a breeze.

I did the usual jobs and spent the morning pricking out brassica plants. After lunch Compostman and I went up the road to Hellens Manor to set up the stall for this weekend's The Garden Festival. I and fellow Master Composters are on a stall all weekend, promoting home composting but because I am the one organising our stall I needed to take compost bin, wormery, display boards etc etc and set up at the site.

The organisers are a lovely group of people; the whole event is one I love to attend and Hellens Manor is a delightful place with fabulous grounds and house. One event I always look forward to doing!

We set up and chatted and enjoyed the sunshine and then, with the stall sorted out as much as I could, we came back home. I will be there from 9 am until early evening, both days this weekend.

Later on though, my evening took on a sadder note as I had to dispatch Blondin. He was a magnificent specimen of a cockerel and very attentive to the girls but very noisy, even by cockerel standards and he also kept on leading the hens down the Wood, into fox danger. So for several months I have been trying to re home him but with no joy. He had also begun to be a bit more aggressive towards us.

Tonight though over the space of an hour he launched a series of unprovoked attacks on me and despite repeatedly being cowed, he kept coming back at me, chasing after me and attacking my back. When I got him in the hen run  he repeatedly flew at my face with spurs and claws outstretched. If I had not taken evasive action he would have injured me I have no doubt, as he had already injured my leg and arm.  I cannot have that sort of behaviour in any animal we keep, and so I quickly caught him (and have the further scars to show for it!) and without further ado killed him.

I hate doing that. I really really do hate it but this was beyond the usual posturing  I would expect from a Cockerel. Blondin had been getting more and more aggressive to all of us over the last couple of weeks and tonight the level of aggression went way over what I was prepared to accept. Poor Blondin.

So, a mixed sort of day here at Compost Mansions. I hope the weekend goes better.

Monday 2 June 2014

Needlefelted small creature

Needlefelted small creature struggling with over large writing equipment. Should I use my greenwoodworking skills to make her a smaller pencil?

Sunday 1 June 2014

I can compost anything*, in my marvelous Hot (compost) Bin! (revisited)

 @hotbincompost @eclectech  #marvelouscompostbin

(I posted this last year but in response to a question about the Hotbin I thought I would post it again)

Proof (if proof were needed) that natural fibres rapidly compost to nothing :) These were once a wool sweater and a cotton shirt before going into my HotBin; all that is left is the synthetic thread from the sweater and the lining from the buttonholes now :)

 *In case you were wondering, the title is a play on this very funny song :) Some of you may remember it used to be at the top of my home page :-) I thought it appropriate to put it up, again :-)

Disclaimer: You can't really compost anything in a compost bin, HotBin or not! Just most things (wink)