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Archive for the ‘Composting’ Category

As part of my job I have a lot of driving around the country to do, so it is inevitable that I tend to stop off at the services every now and then to grab something to eat and generally have a break from driving. This week, on my way back from Northampton I popped into a Services near Birmingham which had a Starbucks in it. I was queuing up for my hot chocolate when I noticed that in one of their display baskets they were giving away big bags of used coffee grounds for free, to dig into your garden.

I had never heard about using coffee grounds as an additive to garden compost before, but on doing a bit of research it turns out that coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil. Some posts on the internet advise sprinkling coffee grounds around plant bases before rain or watering as this becomes slow release nitrogen.

You can also add it to your compost to enrich it, and you can even water them down and use them as liquid fertilizer! Coffee grounds mixed with old egg shells and laid around the bases of your prized plants and flowers can also act as a pest repellant!

Good old Starbucks eh? I will definitely be stopping off for more free bags of coffee grounds!!!

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Well, we have made a good start on our gardening, the weather was lovely yesterday, do I spy the coming of Spring… I do hope so….

First up we checked the compost, which doesnt seem to be quite ready yet, boooo. Oh well, maybe next year…!

Next up, we planted the three peony bulbs, two in the front bed and one in the rockery. We dug a nice deep hole and popped the bulb in, with the fresh new shoots facing upward, and gave them a good water. I cant wait to see how these grow.We also raked up all of the leaves and twigs that had blown onto the vegetable patches. James raked and dug his vegetable patch ready for when the seed potatoes go in.

I meanwhile potted up seeds for: aubergines, two varieties of tomato (super marmande – big beefsteak tomatoes, and rio grande – plum tomatoes), giant sunflowers, romano peppers, sweet basil and lettuce (lollo rosso – red leaved variety). These will now stay in the conservatory and be watered each day until they sprout into little plants big enough to put into the ground. The sunflowers will be grown against the back of the garage to try to disguise it a little.

We also had a little walk around the garden and already we have snowdrops and crocuses sprouting through. The Helibores are budding and we have tulip and hyacinth bulbs coming through. The hollyhock and lupins that I planted last year seem to be doing well and shortly we will need to think about creating a new hanging basket for the front of the house. I might have a go at making one myself.

So all in all, a successful day, the next step will be chitting the seed potatoes ready to go into the vegetable patch. I will do a step by step guide to this when we start to do it.

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This afternoon I have undertaken the tedious (and really quite revolting) task of mixing our existing compost from our smaller homemade compost bin with some of the garden waste that is rotting on the vacant land next to our garden. I have donned the thickest pair of gardening gloves I have, almost put a peg on my nose (be warned – this is vomit-inducing) and set to work.

The reason that I am doing this is because we received a larger subsidised compost bin from our council. The bin that James and I made is full, and the waste over the fence is composting very quickly, so I figure that mixing the two may result is some outstanding compost for our garden.

I have done my best to almost do layers of the newer kitchen waste in our bin, with the drier more rotted down waste from over the fence. However, when I started to actually dry heave over the smell of the newer waste, plus discovering the mouldy, slimey remains of last year’s halloween pumpkin, I gave up and just tipped it  into the bin all together.

Now whilst this sounds like an unenviable task, the benefits of this will far outweigh the yukkiness I have had to endure today. I can’t WAIT until our compost is ready (according to the website for this compost bin- in about four weeks, although James insists it takes longer) and we can put it all over our garden to really enrich the soil.

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I have not had the best start to the week. We have had heavy, almost monsoon like rain every day all day so far and it is forecast to continue for the rest of the week. Now while this is brilliant news for the plants, it is not so great news for the construction of the raised bed.  Plus I have contracted some horrible stomach bug thing so am writing this whilst propped up in bed!

Still being a beginner at this, I was really worried about the fact that I had planted my lettuce seedlings so close together – I thought they would suffocate one another before they even had a chance to get outdoors, but on Gardener’s World last night I noticed that Toby Buckland had done the same with his seedlings, it seems for lettuce, because they are ‘cut and come again’ plants (pretty self explanatory, but basically that you can cut off as many leaves as you like and then return to get more another time) you can grow the leafy types fairly close together if you are going to be using the leaves frequently. So thats a big relief.

I also really want to get into the garden and start composting the garden waste that has been dumped over the fence. This is important as if we are going to get chickens then we don’t want rats or mice making nests near to them, so I need to get the compost all sorted out before the chickens arrive.

Additionally, if you do require any guidance on rats and mice posing a risk to your chickens, a great leaflet to download is the DEFRA Guide to controlling rat infestations within poultry flocks: http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/zoonoses/documents/reports/salrodent.pdf

We have had to pay particular attention to this as we live next door to a pub, so certain health and safety standards do need to be adhered to. Dont let this put you off though!

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We had a surprise when  we arrived home from James’ parents’ house this afternoon – our new compost bin had arrived! It is a bit of a monster!!!

New compost bin. And me!

We have decided to put it by the chicken coop and run so that we can compost the dirty chicken bedding! Our compost is going to be GREAT!

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My very lovely kitchen compost bin

A few weeks ago, when I was getting into the idea of composting (see my earlier post) I decided that rather than have to use plates, my hands etc (and try not to heave) to take kitchen waste out to the compost bin in the garden, I would buy myself a kitchen compost bin.

Now I am pleased to say that you can find no end of lovely kitchen compost bins, my mom’s one from Lakeland is particularly nice. I got mine (the one in the photograph) from www.amazon.co.uk but www.tallulahbloom.co.uk also have amazing ones, as well as some lovely accessories for the home and garden in general! You can also get some unique ones from www.ebay.co.uk as well as some really fab ones from http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/keyword/kitchen%20compost. You can also buy special compostable binliners for your kitchen composter from most of these stores too.

Mine is really handy for putting vegetable peelings, old tea bags and fruit cores and skins in. Plus it looks gorgeous and suits my kitchen, so I am happy!

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When we first got into gardening, the first thing my Dad said to me was ‘You need to get a compost bin.’  Before we began to take an interest in gardening, I never understood what all the fuss was about with this composting malarkey. It seemed smelly and icky and looked like a right faff having to save your vegetable peelings and tea bags to give to some horrible worms!

Now that we have a garden which, due to the constant pruning and tidying that we have to do generates a lot of garden waste, I can completely see why it is worth it. When James was creating his vegetable patch, his work colleague Alistair very kindly donated two large dustbins full of homemade compost which he and his family had made but which they had never used. This homemade compost really really benefitted the plants and is so easy to make yourself.

We actually (rather rebelliously – my dad thought we were mad) made our own compost bin out of an old green plastic dustbin. We simply drilled air holes right the way round at the bottom and then began filling it with garden waste, kitchen waste and the obligatory teabags. It is important to remember that nothing COOKED should go into a compost bin, and neither should meat or dairy produce. We put in ours:

Garden cuttings (ie grass, branches, soil

Kitchen waste (i.e vegetable peelings, fruit cores and pips, banana skins, tea bags)

old cut flowers, old newspapers, thin strips of cardboard

We have also just got a subsidised compost bin from our local council which they deliver to the door as we have so much garden waste that we now require a larger one. It is well worth checking with your local council whether they offer any home composting schemes, ours offer subsidised wormeries, compost bins, accessories and kitchen compost containers. Needless to say, my Dad is very impressed.

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