Composting Events and news

13. Apr, 2021

Volunteers are wanted to help run a Community  Composting and  Demonstration site at Stokes Wood Allotments Leicester. The site is soon to be reopen  on Wednesday mornings and for half days either Saturdays or Sundays . In addition will be running training sessions on composting techniques for beginners, enthusiasts, on cooked food composting, wormeries and making liquid feed. In addition to pallet bins for community composting we have over 20 bins suitable for home and allotment use as well as wormeries.  

For further details please contact

1. Apr, 2021

 In the UK, the nettles are starting to grow, and in the midlands, have reached the right height to cut to make  the first batch of nettle liquid plant feed. If you are a home or allotment gardening this provides an opportunity to obtain a plant food for free. If you manage a Community Allotment or Garden, it could provide an addition activity to provide interest to your members.  

Cut young nettles to about 5cm above soil level. Crush the leaves by scrunching the stems in gloved hands or by placing them on a freshly mown lawn and using a mower to chop them.

Put the crushed nettles into a bucket, it does not matter if some grass is included with the nettles,  weigh the nettles down with a brick and  cover with water. Use about a half a standard bucket full (about one kilogram) of leaves to 10 litres of water. 

Nitrogen-rich nettles are high in silica. As with comfrey tea it is better to use a bucket with a lid to contain the smell. Allow to soak for 2-4 weeks. Stirring occasionally.  When ready the  liquid should be diluted to the colour of weak tea before being watered onto the plants being fed. 

There are two approaches to maintaining a supply  of feed throughout the summer. Either keep replacing the water as it is used and top up the supply of nettles ever two or three months. Or, my preferred option,  once the liquid is used add the  sludge to the compost bin, to help keep it moist and as an activator, and start again using the fresh growth that has replaced that which you cut.




1. Apr, 2021

The question is often asked as to the best way of emptying a conical plastic bin which either does not have a hatch or only has a small “clip in” hatch that is difficult to remove or replace. The simple answer is to lift the bin off the compost, leaving a heap a little like a large Christmas pudding. If the bin cannot be lifted off it may be necessary to push it over. The cone shaped bins such as the Rotol may be  easier to lift than straight sided bins and it is easier if the bin is only half full as it does not need lifting as high.

Normally the top layers will not be fully composted, and these should be added to the bin when it is positioned.  

24. Mar, 2021
A Hügelkultur bed reduces the need for bonfires so bury don`t burn. 
This Permaculture techniquecan deal with  large pieces of rotting wood which are  buried so that it decomposes below ground while allowing the cultivation of plants on the soil forming the raised mound or less commonly a sunken bed.
It provides a means of composting woody material including quite thick logs and tree stumps. This is not intended to replace the insect and hedgehog friendly wood pile in the garden but it does provide an interesting additional composting tool and offers an alternative to bonfires as an environmental friendly means of disposing of logs and other unwanted woody material without the need to split, cut or chip the logs as they can be used whole A communal hügelkultur bed snaking its way across those areas where the ground is currently unsuitable for cultivation could become a of every allotment site
The base material used in the bottom of the trench, or directly on the soil if a trench is not being dug, is wood of varying sizes. This can include rotting logs, sticks, branches, and twigs. The bed can also be built round tree stumps and provides a means of composting them.
The simplest bed suitable for a smaller garden or allotment plot can consist of small mounds about 60cm high of rotting wood or sticks placed on the ground directly on forked over ground layered closely together. Grass clippings and other nitrogen rich greens such as manure are added filling any gaps between the logs. The mound is then covered by 5cm of topsoil or compost.
With larger mounds a trench is desirable, as it helps keep the mound tidy and retains moisture, but it is not essential; the mound can be built straight on top of the soil or even on concrete. Where the mound is to be built directly on the soil a number of sources suggest mowing or strimming any grass and then covering the ground with damp cardboard.
The trench is dug, normally in a north south direction about 1.5 meters wide and 12" deep. It can be as long the compostable material available permits. The mound will shrink so build it higher than the final height that you would like the bed to be.
Once the trench is dug a border of logs, boards or stones may be built round it to frame the bed and keep it tidy, alternatively a more natural mound may be built without a frame.
Logs, branches, and other woody matter which decomposes slowly are placed in the bottom of the trench. The larger items are used first with the smaller branches, twigs, leaves, wood chip and other compostable materials added over the top of the woody layer and to fill the gaps between the larger pieces of wood. The addition of nitrogen rich urine is said to be beneficial If the mound is being built in the New Year the discarded Christmas tree can be included in this layer. It helps if the larger stumps and logs are already rotting.
If turves have been saved, they should be placed upside down (with the soil/roots up) over the woody material forming a domed cover. Water the turves and each subsequent layer as it is added.
The turves are in turn covered with a about an 8”- 12" thick layer of garden waste, leaves and the usual compostable materials. As with the woody layer use the larger items first. This in turn is covered by a 4 - 6” layer of semi-mature compost or manure. These layers can be repeated until the desired height is reached (remember the mound may shrink by a half during the first year).
The soil removed when digging the trench is then used as a final layer to cover the pile. If the mound is built correctly the heat released by the decomposition will warm the soil helping to extend the growing season
15. Mar, 2021

Community composting covers a wide range of composting activities.  An  allotment community composting scheme which takes organic waste produced on the site and composts it for use on the site reduces the need to have bonfires, waste sent to landfill and can be used to make Society members more aware of the need to protect the environment and reduce global warming. Such a scheme requires little time. Our scheme takes less than 5 hours a week for a 60-plot allotment. and virtually no expenditure is required if pallet bins are used. 

Unlike many  Community Composting sites an  allotment scheme which only  composts waste generated on the allotments for use of the allotments  does not result in a change of use, additional traffic, or a potential nuisance. And does not require planning permission.  All that has happened is that most of the composting, which is a desirable and normal part of allotment gardening, is taking place at a central point rather than on each individual plot. However,  it does require  a permit under Waste  legislation, but   most allotment Community Composting groups will be eligible for a T23 Exemption  Certificate (Aerobic composting and associated prior treatment) which will permit the composting of vegetation, cardboard, and food waste to produce compost. All exempt projects need to register their exemption with the Environmental Agency. This is free and may be completed online. 

It is advantageous if the composting area is arranged  so that material flows in one direction with a Clearly labelled Reception bay or bins at the entrance, followed by the sorting (and shredding) area. This are may include an area for killing perennial weeds  by  drying (we use a stack of 5 commercial bread trays) and drowning (a dustbin of water). The actual compost bins form the next stage. Banks of at least three pallet bins are recommended enabling the materials to be turned from one bin to the next. Using a bank of four allows the compost to be turned once a week for a month before being moved to a maturation area. Alternatively, several single bins, of at least 1cu metre, can be used where the materials are added in layers and left a year to decompose without turning .Additional storage near the bins may be required for additional browns e.g., cardboard, shredded paper or dried leaves, manure (if used as an activator), and bulking agent such as woodchip.

 The final requirement is space for a sieving area and a collection point for the finished compost.