Composting Events and news

27. Oct, 2020

The perennial weeds shown in the wheelie bins in a previous blog posting have now been moved to the Composting Demonstration plot. We were impressed with the artistic arrangement of the dock at the top of the pile. The mound will now be shaped, covered with black plastic to exclude the light and air, and left to decompose. As can be seen there is a lot of soil on the weeds much of which could have be knocked off and kept on the plot but at least if all works well it will all be ready to be  reused in about a year .

27. Oct, 2020

Halloween need not be the Festival of Food waste

It is estimated that in the UK up to four million pumpkins are brought to carve and display over Halloween with the edible flesh of these pumpkins being discarded as waste and ending up with most of the lanterns in landfill. This produces an additional 18,000 tons of landfill waste directly attributable to the Halloween festivities. This, according to the environmental charity Hubbub, is equivalent to 360 million portions of pumpkin pie.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins where grown in the USA in 2014 most of which, as in the UK, where used for carving and then thrown away,

 Much of this waste is due to people being unaware of the versatility of pumpkin flesh as a food or not realising that the fresh discarded when carving the pumpkin can be eaten. It is calculated that in the UK only 33% cook the fresh of the pumpkins they carve out this will leave 12.8 million pumpkins  uneaten this Halloween.

On this basis, farmers are growing acres of food just for it to be thrown away. Families  and all food fanatics can all help reduce waste at Halloween by taking part in, or organising   Covid-19 compliant, Pumpkin Rescue activities.

Although we are limited in what we can do this year community groups, local authorities, Environmental and  Food Groups, Allotment Societies, Schools can also organise Covid compliant activities for their members at home or one the net.

Carve it,  Cook it, Eat it, Compost it 

Join us in reducing pumpkin waste while celebrating Halloween

  1. Provide pumpkin recipes and cooking advice to friends, community groups, schools, and clubs. Links to websites are provided.
  2. Get creative and carve your pumpkin at home photograph  the pumpkin and carvers at home, or school before sending the Photographs to us to include on our  website. (Email Encourage carvers to cook the flesh from the pumpkins
  3. Competition Time  Adults can join in and enter the Hubbub competitionSend a photo of your pumpkin carved and cooked, and be in with a chance to win one of two sets of these stunning pumpkin-esque Le Crueset cast iron dishes, and a selection of Toast Ale (made from rescued bread!)Details from   Entry Closes 31st October 2020 at 12pm  
  4. Compost the remains of your carved pumpkin. Due to restrictions we cannot hold our  Pumpkin Smash at Stokes Wood Allotment Compost Demonstration Site this year. (In 2019 we had over 100 pumpkins to smash and compost) but they are easy to compost at home. Join in and send  us photos of the smash or composting.  A downloadable PowerPoint presentation is available at the bottom of this page.

5.     Pumpkin Recipes  Every year over a quarter of all Halloween pumpkins end up in landfill – that’s 18,000 tonnes of food waste with  the flesh of many pumpkins going straight to the food waste bin or composting heap  without being eaten - Hubbub and the local Pumpkin Rescue team  are urging pumpkin carvers  across the county and city to join this year’s Pumpkin Rescue  and reduce the waste sent to landfill,


26. Oct, 2020

 Weeds in the car park.

Wheelie bins full of weeds have been left in the car park at our allotment.   While it is not good allotment  practise to leave weeds for someone else to deal with it does present an interesting composting challenge.

  Perennial weeds  can be composted using a hot composting system, or pre-treated to kill them by drying, drowning in a  bin  or being kept in the dark for a couple of years. With so many weeds left at one time and as most seem to have a significant amount of topsoil attached to their roots, most of these methods are impracticable in the space we have so I am going to use light exclusion by building  a weed mound where the weeds will be heaped in a mound covered with black plastic and left for a year, or two if they contain significant amounts of couch grass. If once the wheelie bins are emptied, they are found to contain weed infested turves these will be stacked grass side to grass side. The idea is to produce good quality loam saving  all the topsoil someone had intended to just throw away

To be continued….

18. Oct, 2020
Runners and strawberries
The composting reception bins are overflowing yet again at the Stokes Wood Demonstration site mainly with runner bean, tomato and strawberry plants. This years Covid restrictions together with a ban on bonfires has meant a considerable increase in the amount of material requiring composting. The bonfire ban means that more material will end up back on the soil as compost rather than up in the air as smoke and pollution but it has shown the need for more compost bins and sufficient time to install them. The increase in material also means that at present we do not have time to cut the material into as short a length as I would like, or a spare bin into which to turn the compost to follow a hot composting technique so we will have extra layered cold bins composting over the rest of the autumn and winter.
The photos show the bins as they where first thing this morning and as material was moved to the working bin including a cardboard layer. This bin should be completed during the week
There are more photos on the Facebook Carry on composting  page
17. Oct, 2020

Biodegradable Glitter Revisited

In the lead up to Halloween and Christmas I thought it might be a good time to update our information on Microplastics and glitter with information just published

 Recent research suggests that  biodegradable alternatives may be  little or no better for the environment than “traditional” PET glitter in respect to the effects of on root length and chlorophyll levels which were almost identical to those of traditional glitter.  New research led by Dr Dannielle Green of Anglia Ruskin University and  published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials (Vol 402. 124070)      indicates after 36 days, the presence of glitter halved the root length of common duckweed (Lemna minor), while levels of chlorophyll in the water were three times lower than in control conditions, indicating reduced levels of phytoplankton, or microalgae. 

The only significant difference was a two-fold increase in the abundance of an invasive species of New Zealand mud snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in water containing the biodegradable MRC glitter. Dr Green, Senior Lecturer in Biology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), is reported as saying that “Our study is the first to look at the effects of glitter in a freshwater environment and we found that both conventional and alternative glitters can have a serious ecological impact on aquatic ecosystems within a short period of time. “All types, including so-called biodegradable glitter, have a negative effect on important primary producers which are the base of the food web, while glitter with a biodegradable cellulose core has an additional impact of encouraging the growth of an invasive species.

“We believe these effects could be caused by leachate from the glitters, possibly from their plastic coating or other materials involved in their production, and our future research will investigate this in greater detail.”

 Further information on glitter and Christmas waste can be found at Christmas Waste