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!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Putting it all together.

Some of you may remember my posts about how much I wanted a patio that I could actually use, with pots of scented flowers and chairs to sit on. After the (horrible, dangerous) old patio was re laid last year we now have a really wonderful area that I use daily, to sit, to work outside on, to use as an outdoor workspace.

We made some new beds as well around it (as if there were not enough work to do here, but never mind!) I have been slowly designing the layout and then planting them up, mostly with plants grown from seed or from cuttings already in the garden. I am thrifty like that!

This is what the two new beds looked like at the end of May.

I have also slowly been adding to the pots of flowers and herbs which live on the patio. Again, grown from seed or cuttings.

And adding places to sit and tables and sun shades. The swing seat was bought last month in a sale from Homebase, at Compostgirls request.

The garden seat/arch which I got from Argos last year as part of a batch of useful items to review, is actually destined to go elsewhere in the garden - I wanted an arch at that end of the patio and wondered if the wooden bench/arch would do the job, but it is wrong there so will be moved. A simple metal arch with some scented climbers will go in its place tonight.

Still a work in progress ( and I still don't have my Olive trees!) but really, I am rather pleased :) At the moment the patio is a bit of a mess and covered with pots and plants waiting to go into their final place in various flower beds. I will post some pictures of what it looks like with the flower beds more fully grown and the new arch in place when I have cleared it up :)

Thursday 17 July 2014

Making hay while the sun shines

 Hot and sunny weather continues so...time to cut the long grass! This is what the hay /flower meadow patch looked like in full bloom back in June.

The flowers have finished and the grass is ready to cut, so Compostman got busy. He has been repairing our Allen Scythe, so to check it was working correctly before he took it into the woodland bramble patch he cut down the now finished wildflower/hay patch in the garden. Sorry but I didn't get to photo it "before".

 Sad to see it go but there is more growing elsewhere to take its place

Elsewhere in the garden, the Princes Trust roses are blooming lovely :)

Same I can't say the same for the veg patch which is in need of water and has suffered from my absence :(.

...although the marjoram bed is blooming lovely as well and the insects LOVE it.

I have a lot of hay to deal with - some to use in the chicken house and lots to compost. I am NOT going to use it for Juniper the Guinea Pig though as last time I did that the hay gave the piggles horrible mites which took ages to clear up.  She can eat the fresh grass :) Sadly she is all alone now as Fudge died a few weeks ago.

As for me, I am recovering and nearly well again. Thank you all for your continued good wishes, it means a lot to know you are thinking of me :) I am off to try something new tonight - will let you know more next week (maybe)


(edited to make it clearer that the hay meadow/flower patch was well and truly finished and NOT still like the top photo! )

Monday 14 July 2014

Garden Organic Masters Conference June 21st 2014

(While I am still convalescing, a post from the weekend before The Blandford Fly incident.)

What a way to spend the Solstice :)

Up early at silly o'clock and did the chickens and watered the polytunnel, then set off to drive to Ryton to spend the day at Garden Organic HQ

 Lots of Master Composter and Master Gardener friends to catch up with


Laverstock Farm shop


excellent plants grown by a local organic community interest company - I bought several perennials.

 The fabulous gardens

My first workshop choice - a tour of the Heritage Seed Library polytunnels and gardens and a tutorial on how to save seed.

More gardens - I had a lovely wander around. This is looking one way over the perennial flower meadow

Looking the other way...

Close up of a ?Jerusalem Sage? flower

 And finally a panoramic view of the whole gigantic flower bed. Click on the photo to get the full glory of it!

 Of course, we had cake - wouldn't be a conference without cake!

After tea and cake, we had a tour of 5 Acre Farm, CSA and box scheme based at Ryton. Very interesting to see how they do it and what they were growing.

 My final workshop was about helping to attract insects into the garden and identifying them once you have attracted them. Very informative and interesting.

The conference finished at 5 pm and I arrived back home at 8 pm, hot and tired after a very long day, to sit and enjoy my own garden with a cold drink!

I recommend a trip to Garden Organic Ryton, always inspiring and full of good ideas.

Monday 7 July 2014

On the mend.

Thank you, all of you, for the good wishes and comments recently :) I am now mobile and out of bed and on the way to recovery - still on medication and still feeling general pain but the hand and arm now look like they are  my hand and arm, again.

So here are some of the things we have been up to in the last few weeks before the dreaded Blandford Fly got to me!

I only have two chickens now, but Poppet (aka Amber) and Sweetie are doing their best to create as much mayhem as a whole flock of hens!  With the various digging and weeding and new flower bed creating going on here they have had ample chance to dig up seedlings, dust bathe in new seed beds and generally be, well, hens.

And then they have to have a snooze, to recharge their batteries, ready for the next bout of naughtiness :)

 Annoying though their antics sometimes are, I would not be without them :)

I hope to have some more hens soon but am re thinking how and where to keep them to try to avoid more fox losses.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Beware the Blandford Fly - you can get a serious infection from a tiny bite.

I have just found a few posts I thought I had published about what I have been up to since Hellens The Garden Festival, lurking in the Drafts folder. I will post them up sometime but there are more important things to say to you at the moment.

While working in the new herb bed on Thursday night I was bitten on the right ball of thumb and the left elbow as well,  and I ended up in hospital for three days over the weekend, with a grossly swollen and infected right arm, in bed on an IV antibiotic drip and with very high blood pressure and other stuff as a result.

I am back at home now, on oral antibiotics but I am really pretty poorly and my hand and arm are still very swollen and painful.

This was Friday evening -  the bite can be seen on the ball of my thumb and my hand is swelling up. It got a lot worse overnight so on Saturday morning I went to hospital and was admitted.

More info on Blandford Fly bites here and here

PLEASE be aware of the Blandford Fly and what happens if you get bitten - I know I have mentioned this nasty little Black Fly in the past so I urge you to be aware and take whatever precautions you can.