Composting Events and news
Food Gusto Ashby Christmas Fair
Join us on Saturday 1st December at the Ashby Christmas Fair where there will be, in addition to our Composting Stall, some of the region’s best Food & Drink Producers as well as selected Artisans Crafts.
Hot food is available, so you can dine out on anything from Organic Beef, Burgers & Sausages, Charcoal Grilled Chicken, Samosas to Thai, Wood Fired Pizza and freshly made Crepes. This can be washed down with a Local Cider, English Wine, Specialist Spirit, Hot Chocolate, Specialist Tea or Barista Coffee.
There is a good range of products on sale, including Samosas and Pakoras, artisan cheese, assorted home baked cakes including – Cupcakes, traybakes, cake slices and large cakes, award winning Melton Mowbray pies, donuts, popcorn, candy floss, fantastic fresh cookies, handmade chopping boards and kitchen equipment, home crafted garden furniture, homemade truffles, caramels, sweet cones and novelty chocolates, local handmade fudge, local honey, crepes, olives, nuts and baklavas, pick and mix cheese, rare breed meats, and even Vegan and Vegetarian cooking.
Drinks will include artisan coffee, milk shakes and smoothies, Buzzard Valley wines grown in Staffordshire, distinctive London Gins, farm produced cider, flavoured liqueurs, Gin, Vodka and sparkling gold bubbly. There will be live community entertainment programme including Elsa & Anna coupled with a range of kids rides and Santa, as well as more entertainment
As it is a Christmas event the compost team, we will be in a seasonal mood drawing attention to the food wasted at Christmas. This is equivalent to 263,00 turkeys, 17.2 million sprouts, 11.9 million carrots and 7.4 million mince pies. We will have free recipes for turning leftovers into appetising meals as well as details of food composters.
Where is it held?
The Ashby Christmas Fair is held on the 1st & 2nd of December (we will not be there on the Sunday) in Ashby on Lower Market Street, with stalls opening from 10.30am to 5.00pm on Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sunday. Set the postcode LE65 1AF in your satnav there will be parking in various Council Car Parks in the town.
Now that the waste generated by Halloween has been cleared away, we should start planning for Christmas, a festival which results in even more food waste. In the UK it is estimated that nearly 10 per cent of every festive meal is wasted. This is valued at about £64million. About a third of diners admit to wasting some of their Christmas dinner.
We waste the equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 17.2 million Brussels sprouts. 11.9 million carrots, 11.3 million roast potatoes, 6 million pigs in blankets and 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding not forgetting 7.4 million mince pies. The festival is completed by discarding 250 tonnes of Christmas Trees in January but we will look at this in a later blog.
Plan now for Christmas food waste composting
The key message to reduce Christmas food waste is by buying only what is needed and cooking leftovers. As always, the key message is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but as a composting website our message is home compost your waste where possible. This covers all “unavoidable” food waste including cooked food.
Now is the time to plan to extend the range of food waste that can compost at home by adding a food compost bin to our Christmas list or by buying one as a December treat. Depending on your needs and resources one of the following three bins can take your cooked food waste including bones plus garden waste.
I have used a Green Johanna, both at home and on our Demonstration sites, for eight or nine years. All Christmas food waste can be composted as well as garden waste. A winter jacket can be purchased separately to keep it working when the average outdoor temperature drops below 5°C but I tend to wrap mine in several layers of bubble wrap. Price approx £120
I had two Hotbins in use at the Demonstration sites using them mainly to compost waste food from the cafe. They are well insulated so ideal for winter use and it is relatively easy to maintain a compost temperature of 40-55C provided they are fed regularly. I use woodchip as the main bulking agent but also add shredded paper to help absorb the moisture. Approx price £185
The Joraform compost tumblers are the expensive but are excellent for food composting being quick and easy of use. I used mine to compost waste food from the Demonstration site cafe. They have a rust proof galvanized steel construction insulated with polyethylene. Wood pellets or wood shavings are recommended as a bulking agent, but I use wood chip which is available for free locally. I have used one of these bins for about seven years. Being a tombola drum shaped tumbler system, they are easy to aerate. Approx. price £349
More information on Christmas composting is on the website and will follow on this Blog during December
As 5th November is almost on us it is a good time to advise against composting used fireworks. While the firework cases consist of card and paper the gunpowder and colouring material that was in them includes heavy metals which are not a helpful addition to the compost bin. It is true that if any remaining contents are emptied from the used fireworks and the cardboard casing is opened, and scraped to remove the final particles, the cardboard could be added to the compost heap. This would then leave you with the “dust” to dispose of.
However, just because something can be composted it does not mean it should be. The official advice is that fireworks should be left for at least 15 minutes after the display ends and then be collected and put in a bucket of water to soak overnight. They can then be put in the general waste (landfill) bin for collection by the council. Some sources recommend double wrapping the wet fireworks in a plastic bag before putting them in the bin.
If the fireworks misfired or are only partially spent soak them in a bucket of water for at least 24 hours and contact your local Council or local fire services for advice about safe disposal. Information will probably be available on the Council website.
For advice on composting Halloween lanterns see the Blog for 13st August
On the 4th October post I wrote that the UK Environmental Agency had been asked for information on the collection of coffee grounds from coffee shops by home composters. The Angency expect to reply within 10 working days. An answer is still awaited.
Autumn is the best time to harvest compost made by cold composting techniques and is also a good time to apply compost as a mulch. Compost and manure were traditionally spread onto the plot and dug into the soil during November. However, it is easier and more common to spread compost on the plot, or as a layer over raised beds, andleave it for the worms to carry the organic material down into the soil. Compost can also be applied both to established beds and around specimen plants and fruit trees and bushes. Care must be taken not to cover the crowns of any perennials or take the compost right up to the trunks or stems of bushes or trees. It can also be used as mulch to top dress any grassed areas.
If harvesting a plastic Dalek type bin, it is easier to lift the bin off the compost than to try to remove the compost through the hatch provided.
As with every other season autumn is considered by some as the best time to start composting. It is certainly a time that, because of the tidying and cleaning up of the garden in readiness for winter, there should be plenty of material to compost and if undertaken early in the season the bin should have time get into its stride before the worst of the cold weather.
Whether starting a new bin, or operating an existing one, getting it actively decomposing throughout the autumn, when the weather is kind, will help to provide a good crop of compost in the spring. If an open pile or New Zealand bin is being used cover it, either with carpet, tarpaulin or a compost duvet, to prevent the material becoming water logged and aerate it to keep it working for as long as possible.
There is likely to be a considerable amount of compostable material available in
the autumn such as windfall fruit but much of it will be bulky such as pea or sweet pea vines. The volume can be reduced by shredding. Shredding increases the surface area of waste to the microbes in the compost. If a shredder is not available,
the waste can be spread on the lawn or a grass path and mowed using a rotary mower.
Even if the material added to the bin is not usually shredded during the rest of the year, it helps to do so with autumn waste to speed decomposition of the material before the start of the cold weather. If shredding is not possible the material should be cut into small pieces i.e. one- or two-inch lengths.
If the compost heap starts overflowing either start a new bin or store the material until the heap subsides and the waste can be added. The surplus material can be stored in a covered pile or buckets. It is important to keep the stored material dry, as dry material will heat up more quickly than wet. When added to the compost bin. Material being saved in the autumn for use as bulking agent in food composting e.g. sawdust or composted wood chip should also be kept dry. (I keep mine in plastic dustbins)
It is helpful to turn the compost bin, to mix the new material and aerate it, to encourage the composting processes before the onset of winter. Towards the end of the month it is advisable to check the consistency and moisture level of the contents. If the material is too dry more greens can be added e.g. nettles and annual weeds along with water or the sludge from compost tea. If too wet crumpled cardboard shredded paper, woodchip or sawdust can be added.
Wormeries should be moved into a shed or outbuilding or if they are to be left outside during the winter the bin should be insulated so that the contents and worms are not frozen, I have found that a triple layer of bubble wrap makes an excellent insulating material which does not absorb water, is clean and easy to reuse. The worms will still need feeding during the winter, although at a reduced rate, so a removable bubble wrap lid should be included. If the allotment is to be left to over winter it might be advisable to take the wormery home so that it is not neglected over the coming months. On the other hand, checking the wormery weekly is a good way of keeping an eye on the plot over the winter months.
Bag autumn leaves for leafmould or as a carbon-rich winter source of Browns for the compost bin on the allotment where cardboard or shredded paper will not be readily available. In the UK the usual advice is that autumn leaves should be treated separately to make leafmould rather than being added to the compost as they can be slow to decompose but in America they are often one of the main composting ingredients and a key source of Browns during the winter if stored dry in a suitable container. The autumn leaves can also be used immediately in the compost bin layering them with grass clippings, the autumn plant material but remember that the leaves tend to be slow to decompose, so this may not be the method of choice.
More information is given at www.carryoncomposting.com