Posts Tagged ‘compost bins’

A new shed roof and an impromptu picnic

August 3, 2011
Repairing the allotment shed

Running repairs

The big day finally arrived.  After resembling a leaky sieve for the past two years, the shed roof was finally going to be covered in felt to protect it from the elements.

The shed if you remember, evolved from one of two compost bins and is … an interesting construction.  The roof, which was made from flooring grade chipboard, was in a pretty poor state and badly needed some remedial treatment.  It was, according to David, a job which would take a ‘couple of hours’.

We got an early start and were the first ones on-site before 8.30am.  This was fortunate as we wanted to fill the water tank too – a major operation.  I pottered and weeded while David started his preparations.  Some four hours later, I cut some lettuce and a cabbage (for coleslaw) and set off home to organise an impromptu picnic.  The roof was still a long way from being completed.  My solo arrival and quick turn-around confused the dog no end!

But it was a lovely day for a picnic and our first this year.  I’m pleased to report by 3.30, the roof was complete.  Needless to say, it hasn’t rained since, so it’s integrity has yet to be put to the test!

The courgettes, which have taken a while to get going, have started to go mad.  A blanching and freezing session will put some away for later in the year.  The French beans and runners are doing well and just a few days away from the first picking.

The onions grown from seed are finally starting to look like proper onions, but as you will see from the pictures at the bottom, they have a long way to go to catch up with those grown from the sets.  The jury is still out, but I am coming to close to thinking they really were not worth all the extra work!

Sheep eating lettuce

A tasty snack!

We grow a lot of ‘cut and come again’ lettuce, both at home and on the allotment.  Salad is our staple summer lunchtime fare.  With regular sowings we avoid the need to buy that nasty supermarket stuff until well into the Autumn.  However, the first sowing had finally bolted.  We always grow too much, working on the basis that it won’t get wasted.  What doesn’t get eaten will simply be composted and put back into the ‘system’.

Geese eating lettuce

Sharing the lettuce

This year though, the old lettuce have been put to an even better use.  A local friend The Balloon Lady, has pet sheep which are very partial to some freshly cut salad!  There was so much, her geese also enjoyed a nibble of this delicious fodder.

There is something very satisfying in knowing little goes to waste up on the allotment.  We’ve become masters of ingenuity, finding a use for all manner of useless objects and recycling everything possible … and that’s what it’s all about.

Comparing onions grown from seed to onions grown from sets

Left: onion grown from a set Right: onion grown from seed

A well-rotted weekend!

June 13, 2011

We have a system for compost!  Actually we have a system for a lot of things, but that’s what happens when you have a David.

Compost, or ‘compo’ as our 2 year old granddaughter calls it (she is an aficionado of Mr Bloom’s Nursery on CBeebies), is vital to our allotment.  I don’t actually know if Mr Bloom refers to it as ‘compo’, never having watched his programme, but if it gets her interested in growing her own veggies, I’m not going to split hairs.

So to the compost system … our allotment started life with 2 compost bins.  One evolved into the shed four years ago.  One compost bin was never going to be enough, so the single compost bin was divided in two.  Are you with me so far?

But two compost bins were still not enough.  We needed a third to allow the compost to rot down properly.  Of course we could have speeded the process up by turning it or using an accelerator, but turning it was difficult in the limited space, and we wanted it to ‘bake’ naturally.

Compost bin using tote bag

Tote bag recycling for compost

Compost bin 3 or the ‘compote bin’, was created from one of those handy tote bags used by builders merchants for ballast and sand etc.  David made a wooden frame (took him about ½ hour) from some old pallets and secured the tote bag to it.  Viola!  Compost bin 3.  That little invention actually got us the ‘letter of the month’ in a Grow It magazine!  The prize of some dome-shaped cloches was appreciated by the local primary school’s gardening club.

Turning the compost in a tote bag is challenging, so the system was born.  Each year we fill up bin number 3 – the tote bag.  The following summer, the contents of bin 2 are moved to bin 1.  And the contents of bin 3 are moved to bin 2.

These Herculean efforts ensure well rotted compost to enrich the soil each year.  We never have enough compost, despite collecting compostables from the neighbours in return for our glut veg, but there isn’t much we can do about that.  We produce a lot of vegetable waste from the kitchen, grass cuttings from the lawn, and copious amounts of shredded paper from the copywriting office.  Combined with the allotment waste, we fill the bin to the top each year (before it rots, that is).

Home made compost bin

The compost bin and shed evolution

It’s not that complicated really, but it does take effort.  Last Saturday was ‘compo’ moving day, and we weren’t relishing the thought! The reality is of course, it doesn’t take a lot of time.  The sun was shining and we couldn’t have had a better day for it!

We had a shopping trip to fit in on Saturday, so our time up on the allotment was limited.  But the rest of the leeks are now in the ground, some weeds were removed and we returned home pleased with our efforts – just before it rained!

The highlight of the week, ‘compo’ apart, was the first harvest of our perpetual spinach.  It is faring much better this year, having been planted straight in the ground.  The first picking yielded two big bags of luscious greens.  The drought, and our subsequent watering, means our brassica plants are looking better than ever before.  We’re looking forward to some even bigger and better harvests.

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