Composting Events and news
Feathers from poultry and game birds consist of about 90% protein by weight and contain approximately 15% Nitrogen. They can be home composted and are classified as a “Green”. The protein is in the form of keratin which is fibrous, insoluble and resistant to biodegradation, meaning that the nitrogen will not be available as a nitrogen source to plants without the keratinolytic activity of microorganisms. This is not a problem for the home composter as these microbes are widely distributed in the environment including the soil and some of them will be found in the composting material already in the bin.
There is an obvious appeal in composting feathers for those who keep home or backyard poultry as there will be regular supply as they moult. Those who shoot or beat for game birds will also have a regular need to dispose of feathers during the shooting season. In addition, there may be a less regular source of feathers from old down or feather pillows and cushions.
In a domestic compost bin bird feathers will break down within just a few months if mixed into an active compost bin with a good carbon source. The sawdust or wood shavings from the hen house, manured by the bird droppings, is ideal but other browns such as sawdust, wood chips and wood shavings will also act as a bulking agent to maintain the air flow into the within the bin pile while helping to maintain the temperature and prevent excessive heat loss.
Morte information at www.carryoncomposting.com composting feathers
Books and press reports often suggestthat home composters should collect waste coffee grounds from local coffee shops and hair from barbers and dog groomers. I have been asked whether I could clarify the position for both composters and the businesses that might pass their waste coffee and hair to an unlicensed carrier to compost in their unregistered home compost bins in their garden or allotments.
Several composting and waste organisations advise that businesses should only pass their waste to a registered carrier, should complete a transfer note and ensure that waste is disposed of legally and that home composters, being private individuals not businesses, should not be permitted to carry or dispose of such waste.
The Environmental Agency have been asked if this is indeed the case and whether home composters should register as waste carriers and whether a Lower Tier registration would be accepted even although the waste would not have been generated by them?
In the case of a local cafe the waste could be handed over a known composter making official transfer feasible but some of the large coffee shop chains just bag their waste grounds and leave it out for anyone to take.
The environmental Agency where asked to clarify the situation on 8th August and allow 10 working days to respond to enquiries. Watch this space
In recent months there has been much criticism of the use of plastic in teabags and the advice given is that where possible use loose tea, just in case the publicity has led to some deciding it is not worth the bother of composting tea. It is worth reemphasising just how good used tea can be as a nutrient for the garden. Lawrence Hills in Grow Your Own Fruit and Vegetables, first published in 1971 by Faber and Faber, made the case for adding tea to the compost heap and nothing has changed apart from the fact that if tea bags are composted they should either be plastic free, be torn open and emptied or the remains of plastic bags rescued after composting.
As with other kitchen waste it is best to collect the cooled tea leaves (or bags) after each pot or mug of tea, in a kitchen caddy along with other vegetable waste and only make the trip to the compost bin or worry when the caddy is full.
The leaves contain about half as much nitrogen as dried blood and more than poultry manure. Tea leaves contain approximately 4.4% nitrogen, along with, 0.24% phosphorus and 0.25% potassium the addition of tea to the compost heap will provide nutrients encouraging the decomposition process. All teas are not the same each variety of tea, black, green or red, will contain a different ratio of compounds but whichever you prefer they will make a useful addition to the compost bin particularly if collected in larger quantities from a local tea shop or café.
Tea leaves, and tea bags, can be added direct to the soil tea as mulch on the soil surface round the plants or to dig the leaves into the soil when preparing the plot. However, as a composter I would recommend composting rather than direct application as it saves time to treat the tea as any other compostable kitchen waste. One of the disadvantages in direct application is that the Tannic acid is in the tea can in some soils lower the pH, so it would be advisable to check the soil pH before the addition of tea leaves.
Allotment gardeners can now download a document providing an Introduction to Alloment Composting from the Allotment composting page.
Allotment Societies and similar groups may add their own loggo provided they retaining the authors name and the carryoncomposting web address.
It is hoped that this will encourage to allotment plot holders to start composting.
Would Any venue in Leicestershire be interested in promoting composting and recycling organic waste by hosting a composting demonstration.
I am a Leicestershire Master Composter who, in addition to promoting composting at events and to schools and residents, have been operating a Compost Demonstration site, initially at Snibston Discovery park and then at other locations, since 2010. While at Snibston the compost demonstration was featured in the CBeebies Mr Bloom “Here and There” programme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03yzcht/mr-bloom-here-and-there-series-1-17-composting
The demonstration consists of approximately 40 different bins, including wormeries, and techniques for composting garden, kitchen and catering waste. It also includes methods for making liquid plant food such as compost, comfrey and worm wee teas. As far as I am aware this is the largest home composting demonstration in the east midlands. The techniques cover those suitable for homes, schools and small businesses.
The Demonstration site would provide an additional attraction to any venue attracting members of the public interested in gardening and waste reduction as well as an educational resource for allotment societies, garden clubs and schools. Talks and training sessions on composting can be provided in conjunction with guided tours of the demonstration. Special events can also be offered for children such as making Rotbots, a compost bins in a 2-litre bottle, (we made over 1,000 when CBeebies Mr Bloom came to Leicester), compost creature hunts and compost bin painting days
We are also able to enhance the green credentials of the host venue by composting most, or all, of the cooked food waste from any café on site.
There is no charge to you for providing the demonstration, the maintenance of the bins or for talks to the public, although of course you may want to charge the public for such talks.
I am now looking for a venue interested in hosting the site. If you are interested I would be pleased to meet with you to discuss the situation.
Photos of the demonstration on one of the earlier sites can be seen at: http://www.carryoncomposting.com/142941482