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 26 April 2017

Product review - Ratchet secateurs and Tool Tidy from Qwerkity

I was recently sent some garden items to review, which was actually great timing as I spent the day outside finally doing some pruning and tidying up!

First up are these very useful rachet secateurs. I found them comfortable and easy to use, switching between rachet and single cut mode at the flick of a switch.  They were easier to use in rachet mode and certainly I felt my dodgy wrists benefited from the rachet action

The only very small quibble I had was that they did seem to open rather more than any of my other secateurs - I had to really stretch my fingers to hold them and reach the handle (see above) 
However this wasn't uncomfortable, just different. 

Qwerkity's website has this to say 
Make light work of pruning with these 2-in-1 Ratchet Secateurs. Lightweight and easy to use, they are perfect for cutting back and dead-heading roses, clematis and all types of plants and shrubs.Designed in the UK and expertly crafted by hand, the secateurs can be changed from single cut to ratchet mode at the flick of a switch. Beautifully crafted with super-sharp non-stick carbon steel blades, and soft grip handles, they are ideal for anyone with limited hand mobility or who suffers from arthritis.
In single cut mode the secateurs snip with ease through stems up to 18mm thick. In ratchet mode, the scissor action cuts through thicker stems up to 22mm with virtually no effort at all. There’s a safety lock to prevent accidents when not in use and an oil sponge for keeping the blades in perfect condition.
20cm long. 18+ 5 year guarantee £14.99

The other item I was sent was this rather nice William Morris Tool Tidy . I love the pattern and it's a good size to put hand tools in, with useful pockets on the outside for seed packets etc.  I did at first think that, with all the things I have to do here at Compost Mansions, it  would be a bit small to take all the stuff I use  - I tend to need a wheelbarrow to cart around all the tools, seeds, etc I  need when working in the garden!

But I have actually found it very useful, particularly for times when I am pottering around weeding the patio containers or herb beds or for taking a load of seed packets out to the polytunnel..

So, if you wanted to buy a present for a gardener, I think it would be a thoughtful and welcome gift.

There are other items in this William Morris pattern on the website also.

Qwerkity's website has this to say 

Take your tools with you as you work your way round the garden. A beautifully elegant accessory for any lady gardener, this sophisticated tool tidy is printed with William Morris's ever popular Strawberry Thief. Crafted in strong cotton canvas with faux leather carry handles, it has plenty of space for all your garden essentials. Four pockets in the front of the bag offer a handy home for secateurs, dibbers, trowels and more.26 x 12 x 25.5cm. £14.99

You can find these items and many more useful gardening gifts and items on Qwerkity's website. Go and have a look!

Disclaimer. I was sent these items to review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this post.

Thursday 20 April 2017

RIP Algy the Serama cockerel

RIP Algy. The one and only @Algythechicken. 

He died peacefully last night around midnight, whilst being cradled in my arms. Much loved companion, who has done so much to educate (and enchant) people about the delights of keeping chickens. 

I shall miss your company enormously whether at events, in my tent at festivals, 

when we did workshops and shows, at festivals, 

in the polytunnel and just by my side pottering in the garden.

Fly high and free little fellow and enchant everyone, wherever it is you are headed.

Monday 10 April 2017

RHS Great British Village Show - review

So, thanks to the lovely Viv at DK Books, I got a beautiful hamper through the post today :)

Bunting! Jam! Chutney! Seeds! And a lovely book written by Thane Prince and Matthew Biggs :)

The jam and chutney were hand made by Thane Prince (you may remember her from the Big Allotment Challenge?) and are delicious :)

The book is beautiful, lovely illustrations, and a good solid volume with a sturdy hardback cover.

And although I have not read every single word (yet) what I have read is great and very informative.

The book is well laid out and very clearly written ( as one would expect from DK!) 

From DK's website ;-

Enter a world of tents, tea, and terrifically good jam with RHS Great British Village Show. Written by Thane Prince and Matthew Biggs, and with a foreword by Alan Titchmarsh, this is the only guide to a unique British tradition.
Every year, hundreds of country shows and fairs take place across the UK. Celebrate this tradition and step behind the scenes of the British country show with insider facts and beautiful photographs that show you every aspect of preparing, presenting, and prize-winning on the big day.
Discover how judges reach their nail-biting decisions by using official RHS guidelines for over 100 fruit, vegetable, and flower categories, and learn how to prepare show-quality preserves and bakes with tips from the experts. RHS Great British Village Show tells you exactly what the judges are looking for - and what to avoid.
Packed with staging tips, expert guides, photo diaries, and prize-winning recipes, RHS Great British Village Show is a unique insider's look behind the scenes of a wonderful British tradition.

So, if you were wanting to have a go at entering a village show this summer  ( with fruit, veg, flowers baking, preserves or other goodies)  or even just wanted a useful guide to growing and making stuff from what you grow - this is a great book to add to your bookshelves.

RHS Great British Village Show, published 3rd April 2017 by DK books price £20

Thanks, Viv!

Disclaimer. I was sent a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this post.